For new students, BCC using $5.5M from state to create one-stop Success Center

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College will receive $5.5 million to create a one-stop onboarding program for new students, the governor's office has announced.

In the coming year, the college will transform the first floor of the Field Administration Center into a One Stop Student Success Center, where students can meet with representatives from several administrative departments, including the registrar, financial services, advising and career services.

"I've been involved with the project for, like, three years," said Christina Wynn, dean of enrollment management at BCC. "We are so excited. It's an amazing opportunity."

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the authorization of the $3.9 billion at a ceremonial bill-signing at Westfield State University on Tuesday. In addition to higher education, the funding was allocated toward health and human services facilities, state office buildings, public safety facilities and courts, according to a statement from Baker's office.

"We are committed to funding critical repairs and capital improvements for all 29 campuses in the state's public higher education system," Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago said in the statement. "This strategic investment is not only fiscally responsible and necessary, but also aligns well with the public higher education system's goals of supporting college access, affordability and success for today's students, and in turn the Commonwealth's workforce and economy for decades to come."

Wynn said that colleges across the country, including several in Massachusetts, are moving toward the "one-stop" model of onboarding for students.

Traditionally, incoming students with questions about different aspects of policy and culture at the school are bounced from window to window at different departments, where they have to wait in lines, she said.

"It's not the most friendly environment," Wynn said.

The new center will have private rooms where representatives from each department will come to the student to address their questions, she said.

"It's sort of case management style of giving students what they need when they need it," Wynn said.

The idea of the success center was conceived in 2015, according to a statement from the college.

In a recent study, administrators learned that navigating the first floor of the administration building can be difficult for individuals with mobility issues, John Law, the school's chief financial officer, said in a statement.

"We are particularly excited about making the campus even more accessible," Law said.

The college is completing $34 million in campus projects for the renovation of Hawthorne and Melville halls, paving parking lots and access roads, and installing a community turf field for football, soccer and lacrosse.

"The vision for this project was to create a comfortable and inviting central location where students and community partners have all of their college service needs met efficiently in one place," college President Ellen Kennedy said about the success center. "Receiving the funding for this project is an exciting opportunity for both the college and the Berkshires. We will continue to expand our efforts to re-imagine not only our buildings and grounds, but also, most importantly, how we can best serve our students so they thrive in the local and statewide economy."

Design plans for the project have been completed.

"We still have to go through the bidding process," Wynn said. "We're hoping that maybe by the spring we'll have something, but it's still very early to say."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

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