SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Many participants including employees, students, families, and community members of Springfield Technical Community College hosted a protest Monday morning against current program cuts in place.
Faculty members voiced their concerns outside the college campus on Federal Street and State Street. Participants held signs that brought attention to decisions John B. Cook, President of STCC, and Academic Vice President Geraldine de Berly have made.
STCC confirmed that a total of 21 full time staff and faculty positions were eliminated recently through retirements, retrenchments, and layoffs. They also will no longer offer seven programs, including cosmetology, dental assistant training, automotive technology, and landscape design
A physic professor who is one of 21 faculty and staff losing their jobs stated the following:
“This unwise decision is more than an internal STCC labor and shared governance issue. It is one that has negative consequences for students and their families. It forecloses prime opportunities for them to have a more secure future, especially during such troubled economic times. The programs that have been eliminated were pathways to employment in a number of economic sectors.”JORIS TAUPIER, FACULTY CO-CHAIR OF THE ALL UNIT CONGRESS
“These programs did not see this coming none of them knew they were on the chopping block. So now the faculty that are here from other programs, we are all worried for our own departments, and this could be anybody at any point,” said Renae Gorman, Department Chair of Physical Therapist assistant program & MCC STCC Chapter President, MA Community College Council.
STCC’s administration issued statements in response to Monday’s protest. They said discontinuing the programs was necessary given the “fiscal climate and long term enrollment declines.” The college has “sought savings and reductions through a retirement incentive, cuts to part time personnel, and deferment of facilities projects.”
In addition to the protest, a petition was created to help save the STCC’S Cosmetology Program. As of Saturday, the petition has over 2,200 virtually signed signatures.
Programs that have currently been discontinued:
- Automotive Technology
- Biomedical Engineering Technology
- Civil Engineering Technology
- Dental Assistant
- Landscape Design and Management Technology
In response to the protest, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Geradine de Berly stated the following:
The college recognizes and shares the frustration and dismay of those expressing concern.” She added “the pandemic has accelerated painful choices, and difficult decisions made on behalf of our mission will not always be popular. We wish circumstances were different.”Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Geraldine de Berly
Geraldine added the decision to remove the programs were necessary due to the given fiscal climate and long-term enrollment declines. The college has sought savings and reduction through a retirement incentive, cuts to part-time, and more. A total of 21 full-time staff and faculty positions have been eliminated.
Dr. John B. Cook, President of STCC stated the college’s decisions include ongoing conversations with their unions. This fall, the college will be offering low-density labs on campus as well as online courses to ensure the safety of faculty and staff. “The college remains committed to preparing students to enter key workforce areas that include healthcare, manufacturing, engineering, and IT/Cybersecurity,” Cook added.