STCC Named Fourth-best Community College in U.S.
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was ranked as the fourth-best community college in the nation and second-best in Massachusetts, according to Academic Influence, a college ranking system. On March 4, the website released its first-ever ranking of the 50 best community colleges in America. STCC is one of six Massachusetts community colleges listed in the top 20. STCC, the Commonwealth’s only technical community college, offers comprehensive workforce and technical education in fields that include manufacturing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); healthcare; business; human services; and the liberal arts. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 30% of students identifying at Latinx. Academic Influence considered 839 community colleges in the U.S. that were fully accredited, enrolled at least 1,000 students, and provided primarily two-year associate-degree programs along with certificate credentials in most cases. In a separate recognition, STCC’s online business degree program was recently ranked as the second-most-popular in the New England region, according to Business Degree Central, an online resource for students. The website ranked STCC’s program second out of 11 colleges in New England. The business program was also ranked second-most-popular in Massachusetts.
HCC Ranked Among Best Community Colleges in U.S.
HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide. In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering. “In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs. “We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”
Serve Food Opens Shared Kitchen to Aspiring Restaurateurs
HOLYOKE — Serve Food, a new business in Holyoke, recently hosted its grand opening at its 112 High St. location. Serve Food, a shared-use kitchen, is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare value-added food products and meals using a monthly membership. Because expenses are shared, the costs are significantly lower than if an entrepreneur started a kitchen on his or her own. All utilities, maintenance expenses, equipment repairs, sanitation, and cleaning supplies are included in the membership fees, allowing members to focus on their product. With membership in the Serve Food kitchen, members can get access to a kitchen almost immediately at little to no risk or extra expense, and have an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other local chefs and food makers. Serve Food’s website, servema.com, also plans to sell members’ products on its website.
Turning Leaf Centers Opens Dispensary Doors to Public
NORTHAMPTON — Turning Leaf Centers opened its doors on 261 King St. in Northampton on March 15. The dispensary features a ‘craft bar,’ experience, which will allow patrons to be educated on everything marijuana, have rolling parties, and participate in flower talk. “We believe the large, curated space will allow people to have an experience nobody has seen with the craft bar, live music days, and seating areas,” co-owner Stephanie McNair said. “Supporting our local community is something that is very important to us as a company. We are looking to display and promote local artists and have event demonstrations and educational seminars in our space.” Turning Leaf Centers Northampton has cultivated an eclectic menu from every product category and price point for every type of cannabis consumer.
UMass President to Again Recommend Tuition Freeze
BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system. The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year. UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.
Florence Bank Opens Third Hampden County Branch
CHICOPEE — Florence Bank opened its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5. The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing. Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.
Jake’s Barber Shop Celebrates Five Years with Community Contribution
GREAT BARRINGTON — As Jake’s Barber Shop commemorates the start of its fifth year in the community, owner Jake Hunker is marking the moment by supporting Railroad Street Youth Project, a local organization that encourages focus and commitment for others. RYSP is a Great Barrington not-for-profit organization that encourages community teenagers to meet, learn, talk, and focus on the future. For the week of Tuesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 3, the barber shop will donate $5 from each haircut to RSYP. Appointments for RSYP-benefiting haircuts from Hunker can be made online through booksy.com, and customers can also call (413) 717-4238 for an appointment. Railroad Street Youth Project is a nonprofit organization helping young people bring their ideas and inspirations to fruition and discover their place in the world. Its Youth Operational Board continues to fund youth-inspired projects, run ongoing mentoring and apprenticeship programs, provide sexual-health programming through local schools, offer job training and career counseling, and staff an active drop-in center that provides counseling, mediation, referrals, and advocacy services for young people in need.
Springfield College Recognized for Community-college Transfer
SPRINGFIELD — For the sixth consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community-college transfer. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts. “We are very honored once again to be among a small, select group of colleges recognized nationally by Phi Theta Kappa for our high level of commitment to the success of transfer students,” said Stuart Jones, vice president for Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “Educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others is the hallmark of who we are and what we do best.”
Bradley Airport Launches Non-stop Service to Nashville, Miami
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the launch of non-stop flights from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Tennessee on Southwest Airlines, and non-stop flights from Bradley to Miami International Airport (MIA) on JetBlue. “We are excited to launch Southwest Airlines’ non-stop service to Nashville from Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Nashville is a popular destination that also offers key connectivity to major destinations across Southwest’s West Coast network. The launch of this service significantly enhances our non-stop offering for our travelers, and, with its introduction, we are pleased to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Southwest Airlines.” In addition, “we welcome JetBlue’s expansion at Bradley International Airport and the addition of new, non-stop service to Miami,” Dillon said. “This new route, which follows JetBlue’s other recent route launches, is a significant vote of confidence in our airport and the market we serve.”