PITTSFIELD -- The state is putting forth $21.1 million at Berkshire Community College for extensive renovations to Hawthorne and Melville halls on the West Street campus.
On Wednesday, Gov. Deval L. Patrick announced the capital funds for BCC, part of the state's goal to fix up community colleges to better prepare students for the 21st-century workforce.
BCC President Ellen Kennedy said two buildings, which house the science and arts departments, are at the heart of BCC's academic programs.
"This is an opportunity to upgrade 40-year-old buildings for the 21st century," Kennedy said. "We try to stay current with our facilities, but we can't do it without this kind of financial infusion."
Kennedy noted the design phase of the project will begin soon, but how the construction will affect students and staff and when the renovations will begin has yet to be worked out.
"We may fast track this given the age of the buildings," she said.
The $21.1 million is part of $108.6 million being doled out to five community colleges in Massachusetts for the current fiscal year. Overall, the Patrick administration plans to invest $298 million in community colleges across the state during a five-year period.
The governor said BCC -- the state's oldest community college -- is deserving of the capital funds.
"Berkshire Community College is full of talent and promise and potential," he said in his announcement. "These funds will help students and faculty seize the opportunities before them."
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing said he is pleased the governor has made a commitment to BCC and the community college system as a whole.
"[The capital funds] recognize the central role BCC plays in the Berkshire economy," Downing said. "Community colleges do a great job of keeping down the cost of higher education and preparing their students for the workforce."
The four additional community college projects being funded include:
-- $37.9 million toward a building upgrade and addition at Mount Wachusett Community College in Worcester County.
-- $22.1 million for MassBay Community College, in the Framingham area, to construct a new allied health academic facility.
-- $20.7 million toward renovations at Roxbury Community College and plan for a new science and allied health building.
-- $6.8 million for building repairs and renovations at Springfield Technical Community College.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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