MCLA fetes new Pittsfield digs

Facility will allow college to expand class offerings

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PITTSFIELD — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts finally has a location in Pittsfield that it can officially call home.

After holding classes at various Pittsfield sites for several years, the North Adams-based college quietly moved its operations this fall from the Conte Federal Building on Center Street to 1Berkshire Central Station at 66 Allen St.

On Tuesday, the new site was officially dedicated MCLA-Pittsfield at a ceremony attended by school administrators and elected officials. The ceremony had originally been scheduled for Feb. 12, but was postponed due to a winter storm.

"We were really limited by what we could offer here," said MCLA President James Birge, referring to the college's previous Pittsfield operations. "We had an opportunity and decided to make a move. ... We were fortunate to find this space."

The new campus is located on the first floor of the city's historic central fire station building that serves as the headquarters for 1Berkshire, the county's state-designated economic development agency, and several other agencies and organizations. Berkshire Bank donated the 124-year-old building to 1Berkshire in 2012.

MCLA's facility, which includes three classrooms, a conference room, a faculty office and a computer lab, is located in an area previously occupied by 1Berkshire, which has moved its

operations upstairs.

MCLA-Pittsfield, which spent $150,000 on furniture and technology at its new campus, is sharing the first floor with the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board, formerly the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board. The building itself is located across Federal Street from Pittsfield City Hall.

Three new programs — a certificate in accounting; a certificate in network security; and a graduate certificate in arts management — are scheduled to begin at MCLA-Pittsfield in the fall, Birge said.

MCLA's presence in Pittsfield is vital to the work that city officials are doing with workforce training, said Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer.

And North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said the new campus extends a longstanding partnership between the two cities involving education.

The new facility serves between 70 and 90 students in both undergraduate and graduate programs, including MCLA's degree completion program, according to Paul A. Petrikis, associate dean of graduate and continuing education. Classes at MCLA-Pittsfield currently take place from 5 to 9 p.m., but the location provides MCLA with the flexibility to offer classes on days, evenings and weekends if it chooses.

"We're expecting to expand significantly," Petrikis said.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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