Daily News

Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner to Visit HCC for Tour, Talk

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will welcome Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega to campus on Wednesday, March 22 as part of his orientation tour of state colleges and universities.

Ortega is expected to be at HCC from 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. to meet with students, faculty, staff, college administrators, and area officials, including former state Rep. Aaron Vega, director of Holyoke’s Office of Planning and Economic Development.

The Board of Higher Education hired Ortega as commissioner in August 2022. He is the former Education secretary in Pennsylvania and succeeded Carlos Santiago as commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts.

Ortega will begin his visit at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Frost Building with a welcome from HCC President Christina Royal and other administrators. From there, HCC student Samya Robles, accompanied by Royal, will lead Ortega on a campus tour, with planned stops at the Thrive Student Resource Center and Food Pantry, Homestead Market (the first campus store in Massachusetts to accept SNAP benefits), the Marieb Building and its Center for Life Sciences, the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch (HCC’s free child-watch service for student-parents), and El Centro (HCC’s bilingual student suport and service center).

At 11:45 a.m., Ortega will meet in the Campus Center (Room 223) with Royal, Vega, and members of the president’s cabinet to talk about the commisioner’s priorities and college priorities, including regional partnerships.

At 12:15 p.m., Ortega will join students, faculty, staff, and trustees in the Campus Center Faculty and Staff Dining Room for a sit-down lunch and “The HCC Experience,” a presentation about what makes the college exceptional from different points of view.

Finally, at 1:30 p.m., Royal and Ortega will meet for a private discussion.