Academic Restructures & Discontinuation of Programs - June 25
June 25, 2020
In the face of COVID, STCC announces program and budget decisions
College continues to offer full range of support services for students during COVID-19 crisis
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Responding to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield Technical Community College will restructure academic departments and discontinue some programs with low enrollment.
Dr. Geraldine de Berly, Vice President of Academic Affairs, announced the restructuring plan and listed seven programs to be discontinued in a campus email released today. The program discontinuations will affect approximately 95 students, but those individuals will be able to complete their degree or certificate at STCC. Across an academic year, about 7,000 students enroll at STCC in approximately 90 different programs.
The decisions were made by the college in anticipation of projected budget shortfalls in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“It is regrettable that STCC is not immune to the fiscal difficulties that have befallen higher education institutions,” de Berly said in the email. “These unprecedented times have required hard decisions, and the loss of programs, as well as skilled and talented faculty and staff, is most dismaying. We recognize the considerable contributions and commitment made to the STCC community, and genuinely wish there was different news to share.”
STCC will reduce 21 positions through retrenchments and layoffs, in addition to early retirement incentives. Some of the retrenchments are a result of restructuring and program closures.
Dr. John B. Cook, STCC President, said the restructuring plan will not change the College’s mission, and in fact reaffirms the imperative to continue as the most affordable and accessible option for so many families. STCC is the only technical community college in Massachusetts with unique health and STEM programs serving significant populations of African American, Latinx, and first-generation college students.
STCC Division of Student Affairs has worked diligently to provide quality services and student support in a remote environment during the COVID-19 crisis, said Vice President of Student Affairs Darcey L. Kemp. Some of the many services being provided remotely include Academic Advising, Career Development Center, assistance with food insecurity and housing, Disability Services, Testing and Assessment, Tutoring, as well as support to veterans.
Like other community colleges, STCC has experienced a steady decline in enrollment since peaking in 2010 during the Great Recession. The decline is linked to a number of factors, including the previously low unemployment rate, as well as smaller high school graduating classes.
“We will continue to offer the most affordable pathway for students who seek a smart start and transfer, or look to enter critical workforce and career fields that include manufacturing and health care, with programs that include nursing, medical assistant and respiratory care. Our two middle names are vital, and STCC prides ourselves on making the dream of higher education possible,” Cook said. “The College has made extremely difficult decisions necessitated by the fiscal impact of the pandemic, but we are resolved during these unprecedented challenges” Cook said; “community colleges will help get Massachusetts back to work.” President Cook added that STCC will work closely with the local legislative delegation, as well as the Baker-Polito Administration, regarding funding and the equitable support of community colleges. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, community colleges have been accustomed to adjusting operating expenses and limited budgets each year in support of students.
In light of fiscal considerations, departments have been restructured within the School of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS) and the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and programs to be discontinued includes:
- Automotive Technology
- Biomedical Engineering Technology
- Civil Engineering Technology
- Dental Assistant
- Landscape Design and Management Technology
STCC will work with students enrolled in the discontinued programs to develop an academic plan to complete their program of study. Students will be supported by an academic or faculty advisor and can consider migrating to related programs. For example, a student studying civil engineering technology may consider architectural building technology. Course offerings will continue beginning fall 2020 through program completion. Administrators are also considering moving some of the discontinued programs to STCC’s Workforce Development Center, which offers non-credit classes that meet employer demand across the region.
Due to COVID-19, STCC this fall will offer on-campus low-density labs using social distancing protocols combined with online instruction. The College is known for its state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment in STEM programs, as well as a nationally recognized patient simulation facility used by students in its acclaimed health programs.
About Springfield Technical Community College
Founded in 1967 and located on 35 acres of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, STCC is a major resource for the economic vitality of Western Massachusetts. As the only technical community college in Massachusetts, in addition to being federally designated a Hispanic Serving Institution, STCC offers a variety of career programs unequalled in the state. STCC’s highly regarded transfer programs in business, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, liberal arts, and STEM fields continue to provide the most affordable options for students pursuing a four-year degree. With an annual enrollment of about 7,000 day, evening, weekend, and online students, STCC is a vibrant campus rich in diversity.