BCC Creates Multicultural Affairs, Diversity and Engagement Center

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As part of a campus-wide commitment to support historically minoritized and marginalized students, Berkshire Community College (BCC) recently created the Multicultural Affairs, Diversity and Engagement (MADE) Center, which will be housed in the Susan B. Anthony Building. 
Funded by a SUCCESS (Supporting Urgent Community College Equity through Student Services) grant, the MADE Center will offer academic and social support services for all students, but with a special focus on supporting traditionally underserved populations.
"With increasing diversity in higher education, it is more important than ever to have concentrated efforts on college campuses dedicated to supporting diverse students, faculty and staff," said George Ambriz, BCC Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of SUCCESS. Research shows that students have higher retention and completion rates when academic and social support systems are in place, Ambriz said.
The MADE Center will feature meeting areas, computers available for student use and a resource library. In connection with community and campus partners, the MADE Center will provide:
  • Programmatic support for academic, personal, professional and social growth
  • Educational opportunities designed to help understand systems of oppression and ways of dismantling that oppression in order to create a more just society
  • Physical space for affinity groups to meet
  • Connections with SUCCESS coaches and other campus partners/resources
  • Resources to promote social justice, anti-racism and equity for all
  • Workshops and programs addressing academic success for underserved students
  • A physical space for students to bring their whole selves
The MADE Center will also have a virtual component. Events will be recorded and shared online, allowing students to access information from anywhere with an internet connection.
"The MADE Center is an exciting next step towards BCC's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is designed with a focused, student-centered approach to community building," said Dean of Students Celia Norcross. "As we look for ways of embracing identities to shape our student stories into a legacy and culture of learning more about ourselves and others, the MADE Center will have an important role in our future growth."
Three staff members were recently hired to support the new center: Alexa Icenia, academic counselor; Dr. Sarah Blizzard, coordinator; and Gabriella Martinez, clerk.

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BEAT: Conserving Flowers and their Pollinators

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joan Edwards will speak at the May Pittsfield Green Drinks event on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM and give a slideshow presentation about the rapidly decreasing biodiversity that is taking place globally, known as the sixth extinction. 
She will specifically focus on flowers and their insect visitors. 
This sixth extinction is primarily driven by human actions, from habitat loss to climate change. The impacts of biodiversity loss are far-reaching, resulting in biological communities that are less resilient and with diminished ecosystems services. As part of the discussion, Joan will explore the impact of biodiversity loss in the pollinator-flower world and examine how the surprising dynamics of flower-pollinator networks can help to conserve both flowers and their pollinators.
Joan Edwards is a botanist interested in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur in milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements, including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, the splash cups of liverworts, and the "poppers" of wood sorrel. Her early fieldwork was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. 
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