BCC, MCLA partner to help business students


PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts are getting down to the business of fostering more business students. 

The public higher education institutions convened Tuesday in their shared education space at the Silvio O. Conte Federal Building to announce a new so-called "2+2" articulation agreement for their business degree students, as developed by the colleges' program leaders and deans.

The new contract will ultimately provide the opportunity for students who obtain an associate degree in business administration from BCC to seamlessly transfer into MCLA's bachelor's degree in business administration program.

Over the past five years, BCC's business program has enrolled an average of 133 students. MCLA currently has about 300 undergraduate students enrolled in its business administration program.

"We've always had articulation agreements with MCLA, but this one's unique," said William Mulholland, BCC's dean of life long learning and work force development.

For example, instead of students having to travel to North Adams to take classes toward their bachelor's in business administration degree, program courses will be offered either in downtown Pittsfield on online for better accessibility and convenience, beginning this fall.

In addition to representatives from each respective college and their boards, leaders from the Berkshire Compact for Education, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and 1Berkshire were in attendance for Tues day's announcement, along with state Sen. Benjamin Downing and Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi.

Stuart Chase, CEO of 1Berkshire, cited Sunday's New York Times article on a recent study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute which predicts that by the year 2020 there will be 38 million to 40 million too few college and university graduates to satisfy the demands of the global labor market and a surplus of up to 95 million low-skill workers worldwide. "We need these higher educational opportunities," said Chase, in reference to the new business degree partnership between BCC and MCLA.

Looking at local statistics, Berkshire Chamber President and CEO Michael Supranowicz said that based on long-term projections to 2018, the area can expect employment gaps of 15 to 20 percent for workers trained in accounting and business operation.

He called the new articulation agreement a "collaborative business solution."

It will likely not be the last to come from the two Berkshire-based colleges.

Incoming BCC President Ellen Kennedy said she looks forward to working with MCLA President Mary Grant and the colleges' faculty and staff so "Berk shire County leads the state in bachelor degree attainment."

Grant said that she also would like to see the two public institutions work together from "conception to action" on more agreements and strategies for students.

"[Education] is the only currency that will carry us through in the 21st century," she said.