Letter: Disturbing loss of BCC science classes
To the editor:
On April 14, we in Berkshire County learned that Berkshire Community College (BCC) will put its nursing program off for another year, a disturbing announcement for those in the pre-nursing program and aspiring students. In addition to this loss, many in our community do not realize that BCC also recently made a sudden and surprising decision to cut several programs. Professor Joseph Kravitz's Atmospheric Sciences classes as well as Professor Gina Foley's Biotech program were suddenly absent from the summer and fall catalogue.
The result of this unilateral decision by the administration is not only that students in the middle of their course of study have had the rug pulled out from under them. Additionally, these highly talented, universally loved professors are no longer allowed to teach what they are most passionate about.
Climate Science is not an expendable issue right now as we need the best minds of our time thinking deeply about it for the well being of future generations. Similarly, it is through an understanding of biotechnology that we will find cures for the diseases that still plague us. This decision to no longer make these courses available at a reasonable cost in our community is tragic.
Unlike what happens at a research institution where talented scientists are supported to do their individual research while they fulfill on their teaching commitments, a community college, if it is fortunate, attracts individuals whose passion it is to teach a wide variety of learners. These specific professors are of the highest quality and should be cherished for the work they do, expertly teaching the gamut of student learning levels and styles in our community. The reward for the relatively low pay is the opportunity to teach what they love. By categorically cutting these higher level classes, BCC has chosen to diminish not only the teaching experience of these educators but also the institution itself. One outstanding professor (Kravitz) has resigned over this decision and will no longer teach Anatomy and Physiology.
Rather than cut these programs because of "low enrollment" (specialized programs usually do not have high enrollment) BCC should have promoted these crown-jewel programs from which students have won prestigious awards and gone on to top universities like SUNY Albany and MIT for graduate work. Had BCC marketed these programs, more students would know of the shiny opportunities that were available for study right here in the Berkshires. Make no mistake, these decisions to even temporarily diminish the nursing (said to be reinstated in 2020 pending accreditation) and science programs at BCC harm our community and it is community which, above all, the "community college" should prioritize.
Tess Diamond Stafford,
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