What's next for our growing two-year college?
Currently, no Mass. community college has dorms on campus
Massachusetts community colleges, including Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, are seeking approval of plans to build dormitories in a move that could change the profile but not the mission of the these two year colleges which were originally created to serve local communities whose students were near enough to drive to school.
200 students commute from the islands
The proposed change would serve a different community today. In Cape Cod's case over 200 students commute from the islands, a dangerous and costly trek during much of the school year. The cape college also serves many students who must travel over 100 miles round trip daily from as far away as Provincetown and Kingston. Under the plans being proposed "work needs" and commuting problems would be factored into the choice of which students were given dorm space.
College President, Kathleen Schatzberg on right, says, "Student housing is needed at CCCC because of the unique geography of our service area - with two islands and the length of our service area, students can spend an hour or more getting to the campus. Also, with a serious shortage of affordable housing, our students sometimes move multiple times a year in search of affordable housing.
"Our housing would be garden-style apartments, housing 2 to 4 students each, and we would give preference to students living farthest from our campus within our service area, and to students who are pursuing studies in areas with demonstrated workforce shortages in our area (healthcare and hospitality, at the moment)."
Dr. Schatzberg continued, "The Commonwealth recognizes lack of affordable workforce housing as a severe barrier to economic development and funded the College (via the Cape & Islands Regional Competitiveness Council) for $35,000 to conduct a feasibility study, which showed a demand in excess of 300 beds. We would probably begin with 200 units to insure our ability to fill the units, since the cost of construction would be covered via bonds that would be repaid over time by the rental charges."
Currently, no community colleges in the state have dorms on campus, and politically much of the pressure to prevent it comes from other colleges trying to protect their own turf.
Which colleges are seeking dorms?
Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Mount Wachusett in Gardner, Greenfield and are the ones seeking to build housing. The proposals are in the early stages, and financing hasn't been determined nor designs chosen yet.
According to Sunday's Boston Globe the state Board of Higher Education, which plans to study the idea for six months to a year, must approve the residential construction.
"Housing could make it easier to pursue a degree or at least to advance through the system," said Stephen Tocco, chairman of the Board of Higher Education is quotedas saying in the Globe story.
4 C's, as the college is known locally, currently serves over 4,000 students taught by a 42 member faculty. The College (see aerial below of campus) offers Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, and Certificates in a variety of program areas. Advanced degrees are offered in partnership with other colleges and universities. Today, the campus consists of 116 acres and 9 buildings, totaling 305,494 square feet. See a related story here.