HCN News & Notes

AIC Makes Plans for Fall Semester in Wake of Courniotes Hall Fire

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is actively working to prepare for the upcoming fall semester following last week’s large structural fire that severely impacted two of AIC’s essential academic buildings: Courniotes Hall and the adjoining Lissa building.

Preliminary investigation results indicate that the fire was caused by a lightning strike during a powerful storm that passed through the area. Both Courniotes and Lissa were integral to the college’s health sciences program, accommodating critical departments including nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and public health.

AIC’s administrative team, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is diligently developing a comprehensive plan to address both the immediate and long-term consequences of the fire. The immediate priority is to relocate the affected classes, clinical simulation labs, and faculty and staff offices to suitable alternative locations. This measure will ensure minimal disruption to academic operations and safeguard the continuity of educational activities for students.

The leadership of the college deeply appreciates the support and solidarity offered by various sources during this challenging time. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Gov. Maura Healey, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal have all reached out to offer their assistance in moving AIC forward. Moreover, leaders from many local colleges and universities have generously offered their help.

Efforts are ongoing to stabilize Courniotes Hall and assess the extent of the damage. Frank Colaccino, chair of AIC’s board of trustees, has been actively involved in this assessment and is dedicated to helping guide the college through the recovery process. With his assistance, AIC has engaged the services of an experienced project manager to navigate the logistics of assessment and reconstruction, which is expected to be a months-long journey.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring a smooth transition during this period of recovery, the campus community will soon be provided with details of a relocation plan, including temporary facilities, academic schedules, and safety measures. Chief Academic Officer Michael Dodge and the college’s deans have worked to identify on-campus spaces for affected faculty, staff, and classes to occupy, beginning on the first day of the fall semester.

In response to the overwhelming desire of many community members to contribute financially to the rebuilding project, the Office of the President, alongside the Office of Institutional Advancement, is planning a fundraising campaign to kickstart the reimagination of Courniotes Hall. Further details will be communicated soon.

College President Hubert Benitez expressed deep gratitude for the outpouring of support from so many. “I want to acknowledge the remarkable resilience and unity displayed by our faculty, staff, and students. It is this collective effort from our community that gives me confidence that we will overcome this adversity together.”