SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The STCC board of trustees voted Monday to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management.
STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources.
“The vote by trustees was important and offers helpful direction for the college moving forward,” Cook said. “We know our unique programs make STCC special, and we will always strive to meet industry and workforce needs. Our faculty and staff remain passionate about the college’s mission. The depth of discussion and consideration in 2020 ensures we are a stronger institution in 2021.”
In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.
Significant discussion across the college, including impact bargaining with one union, has been part of a diligent process of consideration. “I want to thank the trustees for their support and thoughtful approach to reinstating these programs,” Cook said.
At the end of May, with Massachusetts emerging from a stay-at-home order, prospects for the fiscal year were bleak. Already contending with significant enrollment declines and hundreds of millions in deferred maintenance, STCC moved forward amid the uncertainty with an early-retirement incentive, freezes on hiring, personnel reductions, operational savings, capital deferments, and discontinuation of a set of smaller academic programs. While state support for STCC was ultimately level-funded, the college experienced a 16% enrollment decline in the fall semester, and is projected to absorb a 20% decline in the spring semester, which together represent millions in operating losses.
“We know the college still has many significant challenges ahead, and financial resources are particularly important for trustees,” said Marikate Murren, chair of the STCC board of trustees. “Long term, trustees will continue to be involved in seeking input about what STCC can sustain and how the board can support decision making with constituents.”
STCC is the only technical community college in Massachusetts with unique health and STEM programs serving significant populations of African-American, Latinx, and first-generation college students.