BSU comes to the Cape beginning in January
Students who live on or near Cape Cod will have the opportunity to stay local and graduate from Bridgewater State University, thanks to the opening in January of a new facility in Yarmouth.
As part of the university’s mission, and spurred by President Dana Mohler-Faria who hails from the Cape, the new location off Route 28 will offer master’s degrees, bachelor’s degree completion in partnership with Cape Cod Community College, certificate and non-credit programs.
“It’s our intention to be a real presence here on the Cape,” the president said.
Fred Clark, executive vice president and vice president of external affairs, said the Cape has always been part of BSU’s service area. “Our hope would be that our Cape Cod graduates will find a pathway to employment on the Cape, if that’s what they want,” he said.
Dr. Mary Fuller, director of continuing and distance education, said the opening of the facility ends a search by the institution that began more than three years ago, and it aims to fill an educational void on the Cape for degree programs.
“There are a number of people that started college and stopped because of family reasons or for work reasons, who all of a sudden say, ‘I’ve been managing this company, but I need a bachelor’s degree, need that credential, to move on.’ That would be the type of person we’re looking to attract … the adult market, ages 25-45,” she said.
Although Dr. Fuller is also is heading a search committee for a director to handle day-to-day operations at the facility.
The MacArthur School in Yarmouth is the site for the new BSU campus. It is undergoing approximately $3 million in renovations, as the university converts the former elementary school to a state-of-the-art educational facility.
By the time renovations are complete in January 2017, it’s possible the facility could host as many as 800 students. Four classrooms will be available in January, growing to 12 by the completion of the project. The university has a five-year lease with the Town of Yarmouth for the building, and options to renew it twice.
Mr. Clark said the university will likely feature programs for early childhood education, social work, certified public managers, and non-credit certificates in small business and non-profit management. He is working in conjunction with Dr. Anna Bradfield, executive director of university initiatives, to develop the new site and its curriculum.
“We’re really comfortable with this first group of programs going forward, but we told people in every single meeting we’ve had that we will shape our programs to meet the needs of Cape Cod,” he said.
The university’s history on the Cape dates back to the early 1970s when Hyannis State College experienced some difficulties and Bridgewater was brought in to run the school in its last two years of operation.
“I like to tell people down in the Cape that we're not really coming to Cape Cod, we’re coming back to Cape Cod, in some regards,” Mr. Clark said.
Approximately 500 students from the Cape take classes on BSU’s main campus. Of those, 400 commute and 85 percent say they would consider completing their degrees on the Cape.
“We’ve realized that there’s been quite a flight of young people from the Cape,” Mr. Clark said. “They generally leave the Cape pursuing higher-ed opportunities or jobs and, in most cases, they don’t come back. Having a permanently sited higher-education facility on the Cape might help to retain, maybe even attract, some folks who otherwise would be crossing the bridges and not coming back.”
Finding a facility and moving in has involved more than 30 meetings with local officials and area chambers of commerce, said Dr. Fuller. Many of those folks also saw the need for a local BSU facility.
“There’s a large percentage of people that live on the Cape who have an associate’s degree or some college attainment. They would benefit from having bachelor’s completion programs,” Dr. Fuller said. “We’re looking forward to working with Cape Cod Community College to identify students that, after completing their two-year degree, want to and stay on the Cape to finish their bachelor’s degrees.”
Mr. Clark said many people at BSU have been involved in the opening of the Yarmouth campus – from facilities management to librarians and many others.
“This is an example of Bridgewater State University coming together, from faculty and staff to administrators, to do something innovative in the region and deliver effectively,” he said. “I’m always proud of the folks on this campus when they come together like this to make it happen.” (Story by Steve Ide)