Colleges Form Partnership on Workforce Training
SPRINGFIELD — Businesses throughout Hampden and Hampshire counties can now access custom-designed workforce training through a partnership between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). TWO — Training & Workforce Options — is a joint endeavor that provides a single source for customized workforce development and training in the region. HCC President Bill Messner noted that the colleges have offered extensive workforce training and development for decades, but now there is one telephone number and easy Web access for this business resource. STCC President Ira Rubenzahl added that TWO will offer a wide range of training, from computer software and certification preparation to manufacturing; from management skills to ESL in the workplace. “Our goal is to make Western Mass. a more desirable place to grow your business,” said Rubenzahl. Messner added that “both colleges have a long-term track record; it makes sense for us to combine and offer greater efficiency.” Classes will be scheduled at the need and desire of the customer, whether immediately or at some preferred time in the future. TWO can also provide distance classes online if that’s more convenient for the individual employees, or provide an instructor at the business address. Debbie Bellucci, dean of the STCC School of Continuing Education and Distance Learning, noted that contract training can be designed based on an individual company’s specific needs and desired outcomes. For more information on TWO, call (413) 755-6100.
UMass Wins Grant to Host $7.5 Million Northeast Climate Science Center
AMHERST — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced that UMass Amherst has been chosen to lead a consortium of seven universities and host a major new endeavor, the Northeast Climate Science Center, through a five-year, $7.5 million grant. It will support federal, state, and other agencies by studying the effects of climate change on ecosystems, wildlife, water, and other resources in the region. UMass Amherst and partner institutions in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts will together receive $1.5 million core funding each year for five years, with more project-specific funds available. The Northeast CSC is one of eight established by the Interior Department since Salazar founded the program in 2009. The region includes New England and states west to Minnesota and south to Maryland. “Selecting the locations for the final three of our eight climate science centers is a major milestone in our efforts to implement our department-wide climate-change strategy,” Salazar said. “The nationwide network of climate science centers will provide the scientific talent and commitment necessary for understanding how climate change and other landscape stressors will change the face of the U.S., and how the Department of the Interior, as our nation’s chief steward of natural and cultural resources, can prepare and respond.” Specific challenges could include climate impacts on water resources, agriculture and grazing, fish and wildlife responses to climate change, forest resilience, invasive species, protecting migratory fish and waterfowl, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, flood management, and water quality. Funded research is only one benefit of being named a CSC. The designation also positions the university for a future leadership role in regional and national climate research, according to Michael Malone, UMass Amherst vice chancellor for research and engagement. Principal investigator of the new CSC at UMass Amherst is Richard Palmer, head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with co-principal investigators Raymond Bradley, distinguished university professor and director of the Climate System Research Center; Curt Griffin, professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and co-director of the Environmental Sciences Program; and Keith Nislow, wildlife and fish team leader of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. Bradley noted there is a pressing need for information on how climate change will affect conditions at the local level, which requires studies using high-resolution climate models. “Most studies so far provide broad-scale assessments at the national level,” he said, “but resource managers need more detailed information that is relevant to their specific problems. One of our goals for the new center is to develop this capability.” Palmer said that, to win this major federal recognition, UMass Amherst and its partner institutions demonstrated that they offer unparalleled research strengths and established multi-disciplinary collaborations spanning the Northeast region needed to carry out research on specific regional climate-change effects. Graduate students from many UMass Amherst departments and undergraduates in the Commonwealth Honors College will be involved in the Northeast CSC, including a possible exchange program with other regional centers. In addition to UMass Amherst, other Northeast CSC members are the University of Wisconsin Madison, the University of Missouri Columbia, the University of Minnesota, the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wis., the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., and Columbia University in New York City. According to the Department of the Interior, the eight regional climate science centers extend from a hub at the National Climate Change and Wildlife Center at the U.S. Geological Survey national headquarters. In addition to Interior Department bureaus such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, other federal cooperating agencies taking part in the CSC program are the U.S. Forest Service and NOAA. State, tribal, landowner, and non-governmental organization interests also will be engaged in identifying science priorities for the CSCs. Other climate science centers are located in Alaska, the Pacific Islands, and the Northwest, Southwest, North Central, South Central, and Southeast regions of the U.S.
UMass Amherst Cops $3M Grant for Science, Math Teacher Development
AMHERST — The School of Education at the UMass Amherst has received a six-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a network that helps train and retain science and mathematics teachers for middle and high schools in Western Mass. The project addresses the critical need for middle- and high-school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers through collaboration between UMass Amherst educators — and researchers from the School of Education and the colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering — and mathematics and science administrators from regional school districts. The participating schools include the Springfield, Holyoke, and Greenfield public schools and the Mahar Regional School District in Orange. The Amherst-based Hitchcock Center for the Environment, a nonprofit organization focused on the professional development of teachers and the education of young people in the sciences, is a key partner in this project. The program is designed to encourage talented students and professionals to pursue teaching careers and develop long-term commitments to teaching students in high-needs secondary schools. This grant was accompanied by $1.5 million in matching contributions from the university and project partners. UMass Amherst faculty involved in the grant are Kathleen Davis, Sandra Madden, and Barbara Madeloni, all of the School of Education’s department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies; Stephen Schneider, head of the department of Astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences; and Paula Sturdevant Rees, from the Water Resources Research Center and the College of Engineering. The six-year project supports an engaged community of 20 master teacher fellows — teachers with master’s degrees and demonstrated excellence in teaching currently working in the partner districts — and 20 teaching fellows who are post-baccalaureate students and professionals holding STEM degrees who will earn a teaching credential and teach in a high-needs district. It provides these science and mathematics teachers with community support, licensure, graduate degrees and certificates, and salary supplements while they teach.
Massachusetts Public Higher Ed Enrollment Hits All-time High
BOSTON — The Mass. Department of Higher Education recently released data showing that the state’s public colleges and universities continue to experience substantial enrollment growth, hitting a 10-year record high in 2011. The 2011 Early Enrollment and Long-term Trend Comparisons, presented to the Mass. Board of Higher Education this morning, show a 23% increase in undergraduate enrollment at the state’s community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses between fall, 2001 and fall, 2011. The report also shows that selected colleges and universities have witnessed dramatic fall-to-fall enrollment increases in the past year. Framingham State University’s enrollment increased 15%, while Worcester State University’s enrollment grew by 9%. These increases occurred despite a smaller pool of high school graduates across the state due to various demographic changes. “The data tell an important story, namely that our public colleges and universities continue to play a decidedly more important role in educating the future citizens and workforce of the Commonwealth,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education for Massachusetts. “While the numbers are not as dramatic as in recent years, this new analysis shows that our enrollment growth remains consistent and our role in educating the state’s future citizenry and workforce continues to expand.” While the greatest growth in enrollment over the past few years has been at the community college level, this past year saw the highest enrollment increases in the state university segment. Framingham State University President Timothy Flanagan attributes the increase to the university’s own growth plan, accommodation of transfer students, and current economic realities. “Families are seeking value, which they define as high quality academic programs and world class faculty to prepare students for careers and further study,” said Flanagan.
School of Public Health Wins $2.5M Grant, National Recognition
AMHERST — Training to improve the nation’s public health system by strengthening the technical, scientific, managerial, and leadership competence of current and future public-health workers will soon be under way in Springfield, Holyoke, Pittsfield, and the Berkshires, supported by a four-year, $2.5 million grant to the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) at UMass Amherst. Dean Marjorie Aelion, with lead faculty investigators Dan Gerber and Stuart Chipkin, recently announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services award to the SPHHS at UMass Amherst, which creates a Public Health Training Center on the campus. Similar awards were also given to Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins universities. Through the center, training will be available to 30 current community health workers in Springfield, Holyoke, Pittsfield, and the Berkshires each year over the next four years. Concurrently, 30 UMass Amherst SPHHS undergraduate student interns will be placed in some of the communities to help administer new programs each year.