Massachusetts higher education

Holyoke Community College

       A community college in western Massachusetts welcomed a new president this week. 

       Christina Royal is just the fourth president in the 70-year history of Holyoke Community College. She is the first woman to hold the office.  

       Royal spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and leaders of the state’s public education system are touting a new program they say could cut the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree by $5,000. 

The initiative is called the “Commonwealth Commitment.”  It was developed by faculty and administrators from the state’s community colleges, public universities, and the University of Massachusetts. 

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Spoke with Monica Perez interim vice president of Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, on the right, speaks with reporters following a meeting with MCLA President Jaimie Birge.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

The state’s Higher Education Commissioner visited Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Thursday to meet with the school’s new president and others at the North Adams campus.

The new president of Westfield State University has a plan for his first 100 days in office. Ramon Torrecilha became the 20th president of the 176-year-old school three weeks ago.

He came to western Massachusetts from California State University Dominguez Hills, where he held several senior administrative positions and was on the faculty.  

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Torrecilha.

The new Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago is visiting each of the 24 campuses that make up the state’s system of community colleges and state universities. At each visit he meets with staff, faculty, students, local community leaders, and elected officials. 

Santiago, who came to Massachusetts as a deputy higher education commissioner in 2013, was on the campus of Westfield State University Thursday and he spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland has announced plans to leave the post.  Freeland has helped to shape college education in Massachusetts for four decades.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick praised Freeland, calling him a true champion of the state’s public colleges and universities.

" A big loss. He will step down at the end of the academic year."


A western Massachusetts community college has announced a major contribution from a former professor to help launch a state of the art health education center.  The new facility will help meet the demand for skilled workers in the region’s growing health care industry.

Holyoke Community College at a meeting of the school’s board of trustees Tuesday morning announced a $1 million contribution to a $5.3 million campaign to equip a new center for health education.  College president William Messner said the center will open in the fall of 2015.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

A state committee addressing the rising costs of student loans held a hearing in western Massachusetts today.