Berkshire Community College president Ellen Kennedy lauded by trustees


PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy has received a positive evaluation from the board of trustees and a community review group -- along with a recommended 3.5 percent pay raise.

Also during the this week's board meeting, trustees heard an update on a pending $23 million renovation project encompassing both Hawthorne and Melville halls -- two of the original buildings on the West Road campus.

An evaluation conducted by the board's Human Resources Subcommittee was summarized before the trustees voted unanimously to approve the report and pay hike.

Kennedy now is paid $185,125. The raise recommended by trustees will now go to the commissioner of higher education for final approval.

Kennedy, 53, the former chief financial officer at BCC, became interim president during a nationwide search to replace Paul E. Raverta, who retired in January 2012. She was unanimously selected by trustees in May 2012 to be the college's seventh president.

She thanked the board this week and stressed that many others at the college have worked to effect progress on many fronts over the past year.

The evaluation focused on mutually agreed-upon goals for BCC and on Kennedy's written self-assessment of her progress over the year. Among an extensive list of Kennedy's accomplishments noted by the subcommittee include progress on development of an artificial turf field on campus; establishing a smoke-free campus; and her support for the BCC Foundation, the planned Berkshire Innovation Center, a student Veterans Center, campus branding and campus and community outreach efforts.

"The majority of the [trustees] rated President Kennedy's performance excellent on six different categories," the report stated. Those are staff and student engagement, community engagement, keeping the trustees informed on important issues, development and operation of college budgets, strategic planning and long-range planning and implementation.

Community members asked to evaluate her performance also rated it highly, the report said, adding, "Seven community members responded with a majority rating of excellent."

Mentioned by those respondents as a new goal the president should consider was public transportation to the campus from surrounding communities.

Scott Richards, director of facilities at the college, gave an update on the campus construction project. "This is a very critical time," he said, adding that the renovation of the two buildings is in the schematic design stage, and that should be completed next month. NBBJ architects has been selected to design the renovations.

The project timetable now calls for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to send a request for proposals to seven firms that have received pre-qualified approval to manage the construction process. The goal is for DCAMM to select a construction firm by the end of the year and for final design work and preliminary construction to begin during the spring semester at Hawthorne Hall.

"Obviously, this will require a great deal of planning," said John Law, the school's chief financial officer. Faculty and staff will be relocated first from Hawthorne hall in January and later from Melville hall as the construction schedule progresses from early 2015 through late summer 2016.

The work is expected to be finished in time for the fall 2016 semester.

BCC's campus off West Street was completed in 1972, and the two rectangular classroom buildings will receive their first major overhaul since that time.

Previously, the college, which opened in September 1960, was housed in the former Pittsfield High School building (now the Central Annex apartment complex), located off Second Street at the eastern edge of The Common.

To reach Jim Therrien:,
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