Berkshire Community College and the University at Albany have an agreement today allowing atmospheric science students to transfer between the schools and across state borders.
“I’m not a meteorologist, but I look out the window and it looks grey and dreary,” said UAlbany interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost Tim Mulcahy, speaking Wednesday at BCC’s Pittsfield campus. “But I can tell you, the future is bright and sunny.”
While Mulcahy may not be a meteorologist, the graduates of this academic partnership will be.
Berkshire Community College launched its two-year Liberal Arts atmospheric science program this fall and now its students can transfer those credits to UAlbany. Dr. Joseph Kravitz graduated from UAlbany and founded the atmospheric science program at BCC.
“With climate change one of the things that has really taken a lot more prominence are jobs in the energy sector, government, industry advising, long-range weather forecasts and how we are going to deal with the impacts of climate change,” said Kravitz.
Kravitz says when people hear someone is a meteorologist they immediately think weathercaster, even though that job represents just five percent of the profession. He calls people in the field “weather weenies” finding the topic fascinating. He’s hopeful partnerships such as this show other “weather weenies” there are careers for their passions. Joan Grossman fits that mold. She prepared taxes before taking classes at BCC.
“It’s fun,” Grossman said. “I always wanted to know about the weather. When I saw Joe offer the initial introduction to meteorology class I said ‘I have to take this.’ He’s very passionate and his enthusiasm is catching. He said ‘You know there’s a program at Albany.’ I said ‘No, I didn’t.’ So that’s how I decided I was going to focus and do this.”
At BCC students take the fundamental calculus, physics and chemistry courses along with the same weather-related classes taught at UAlbany during the first two years of its program. Hoping to get a research position in the field, junior Nick Carle has already made the jump across the border from BCC’s Pittsfield campus to UAlbany.
“As far as the weather class, I’d have to say taking the class with Joe really helped me,” Carle said. “As I just mentioned to him there are still things that I know that my classmates don’t in my classes now as a junior. So he set me pretty far ahead as far as the concepts. Now I just have to put the math behind it, which I’m learning, and everything is going quite smoothly I think.”
BCC has transfer agreements with 44 universities and colleges throughout the country including Massachusetts state colleges and as far away as Colorado State University. UAlbany’s Tim Mulcahy says those partnerships are necessary with rising costs and changing demographics in higher education.
“It’s those institutions who can figure out how to partner effectively across the whole range of higher ed[ucation] opportunities are going to be those institutions that succeed,” Mulcahy said. “UAlbany and Berkshire Community College want to be two of those.”