New leadership announcements as BCC heads back to school

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College heads into the new academic year with some fresh faces and an eye toward the future of its workforce development program.

College leaders recently have hired several new deans, including those overseeing business, humanities and nursing.

Lori Moon, the new dean of nursing, takes the reins of the nursing program as the college works to address regulatory issues; Laurie Gordy now serves as the college's dean of humanities, behavioral and social sciences; and Kevin Bechard, the new business and outreach dean, will oversee significant structural changes to the college's workforce development program, which the college is moving under its academic umbrella.

"We've just been in this tremendous period of onboarding new people," said Christina Wynn, the college's dean of enrollment management. "It's been a really exciting time for us."

The college moves into the school year with an $18.5 million operating budget — the preliminary budget for the current fiscal year will get a final review by the college's board of trustees next month — and 1,530 students, representing a 9.4 percent decline over last year's head count. About 916 students are credited with a full-time load, Wynn said, which is about 5.3 percent less than last year's full-time head count.

About 1,688 students attended the college in fall 2018, while a total of 967 students took a full-time course load.

Wynn said the college offers 400 courses at campuses in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, as well as online offerings.

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New this year is a cannabis certificate program that aims to train professionals headed into the burgeoning industry. There are 18 students signed up for that program, Wynn said.

"So, we're excited about that," she said.

From the workforce development perspective, Jennifer Berne, the vice president for academic affairs, said the college has been rethinking the role of the workforce development program in the community, and fine-tuning it to meet the needs of local employers. Meantime, she said the school has pared back its course offerings in the name of quality control.

"We had a lot of offerings with very few people in them," she said, noting that most courses had fewer than 10 people, and some of them had fewer than five.

"We need to do a study so we can get people what they need," she said.

She said Bechard, who started in July, will reconsider workforce development offerings as he settles into his position.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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