© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MCLA Celebrates Pittsfield Branch

MCLA President Dr. Jamie Birge speaks behind a podium flanked by the US and Massachusetts flags.
Josh Landes
MCLA President Dr. Jamie Birge.

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Pittsfield location Tuesday.

North Adams-based MCLA held the celebration after finishing renovation work on its new Pittsfield branch over the college’s winter break. North Adams sits about 20 miles north of Pittsfield.

“I’m excited to share in the grand opening of MCLA Pittsfield, and the opportunities it represents for MCLA and the city of Pittsfield," said Denise Marshall. She's the chair of the college’s board of trustees, as well as a graduate of the college. She addressed the assemblage from a classroom deep within MCLA Pittsfield’s space in the 1Berkshire building on Allen Street in the city’s downtown.

“Having this beautiful space in downtown Pittsfield aligns with our strategies: assuring education is available to all, and responding to student and community needs in ways that enhance MCLA’s distinctiveness, its role as a pioneering education leader, and its value as an engine of regional growth,” said Marshall.

She stressed that the investment in Pittsfield also deepens MCLA’s relationship with Berkshire Community College, located a few miles west on the city’s outskirts.

Previously, MCLA had rented space at the Conte Federal Building in Pittsfield. Dr. Jamie Birge, the college’s president, said the new location offers more opportunities.

“Right now we have the same slate of courses that we have offered previously, so it’s mostly evening classes, but we think now because we have access to the facility all day long that we’ll have day classes as well as weekend classes," he told WAMC. "So we could accommodate many more students that we have, and with the addition of these three new programs, we think we’ll bring in more students.”

Birge says the first new program is an extension of work the school has done at its North Adams campus.

“The certificate in accounting is really designed to respond to people who need additional training in accounting principles, so they can either do more work in their current organization or be promoted there,” explained Birge.

He says the second new program is about network security, and emerged from conversations with regional CEOs.

“All of us have concerns about network security, and so we wanted to offer some kind of certificate program that would help people understand the importance of network security, problem solving, exposure to mitigating risk,” said the president.

The third program is a response to the county’s burgeoning creative economy.

“We wanted to offer the certificate in art management that will help entry-level and mid-career people in that field advance and find work that’s important here,” said Birge.

All of the newly launched programs will co-exist with the classes that have been underway since the Pittsfield branch began operating in September.

“We teach our MBA program out of MCLA Pittsfield. We also have degree completion programs, a BS in business administration, and a BA in disciplinary studies," said Birge. "So those will continue, and those emerged out of our partnership with Berkshire Community College. We’ll continue offering those, we think it’s important to the people here in Berkshire County.”

MCLA, which has about 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students, says roughly 90 students are enrolled in classes at the new location to date.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
Related Content