UMass Amherst, AIC Sign Agreement to Share Classroom, Lab Space After Fire

SPRINGFIELD — UMass Amherst and American International College (AIC) signed an agreement allowing AIC to use clinical simulation laboratories and classrooms at the UMass Amherst Center at Springfield following a fire on the AIC campus in July. The agreement will assist AIC nursing students in continuing their education uninterrupted as repairs are made to AIC’s health-sciences facilities.

“As an institution that is deeply committed to Western Massachusetts and Springfield and to our partner institutions, we recognized the urgency of not only helping AIC nursing students continue their studies, but also addressing the need for primary caregivers amid the ongoing nursing shortage,” UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes said. “This is about neighbor helping neighbor in a time of need — and meeting the workforce needs of our region, especially in an area as critical to the Commonwealth as nursing.”

The July 27 fire on AIC’s campus in Springfield, sparked by a lightning strike, caused extensive damage to Courniotes Hall, which houses the college’s nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and public health programs.

“After the destruction of Courniotes Hall, AIC swiftly reaccommodated classroom and office space for faculty on the AIC campus. However, rebuilding simulation labs with just a few weeks before the start of the semester would not have been possible,” AIC President Hubert Benitez said. “We are tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support shown by the community at large, including the generosity of UMass in helping us secure this critical space. This partnership enabled the college to move forward quickly while allowing our nursing students to continue their studies uninterrupted.”

Under the agreement, the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst and AIC’s nursing program have developed a schedule to share instruction space at Tower Square in downtown Springfield through May 2024. This fall, more than 50 AIC students have used the facilities for instruction, assessments, and other activities.