The first two-year college in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College opened its doors in 1946 in classrooms made available by Holyoke High School. Area professors, who worked during the day at Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College taught evening classes for working adults, many of whom were recently returned veterans taking advantage of the G.I. Bill.
Today, Holyoke Community College is located on a beautiful 135-acre campus just off Interstate 91. The college serves approximately 7,000 students annually in credit and non-credit courses. Students primarily come from Hampden County, Hampshire County, and Franklin County, with the largest numbers coming from the cities and towns of Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Westfield, West Springfield, Easthampton, Northampton, Ludlow, South Hadley, Belchertown, Agawam, Amherst, Granby, Southampton, and Palmer. Approximately 800 students graduate from HCC each year.
Holyoke Community College employs 102 full-time faculty members, 191 adjunct/Division of Continuing Education faculty members, 148 professional staff members, and 105 support staff members. The FY2023 annual operating budget for HCC is $50,065,606.
The HCC Foundation
With assets of more than $19M, the Holyoke Community College Foundation manages the largest endowment of any community college in the state, dispersing more than $400,000 annually in student scholarships and providing support to programs and initiatives across the college. In addition, Holyoke Community College is the recipient of more than $9 million in grant funding each year for various academic, student support, and workforce development programs.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Board of Higher Education
Holyoke Community College is part of the Massachusetts public higher education system, which is comprised of 15 community colleges, nine state universities, and the five-campus University of Massachusetts System. Tasked with defining the mission of and coordinating the Commonwealth’s system of public higher education, the Board of Higher Education has a particular responsibility for the community colleges and state universities, and broad oversight responsibility for the University of Massachusetts. The Department of Higher Education (DHE), headed by a commissioner, is the executive arm of the Board of Higher Education (BHE). The board participates in the appointment of college presidents; the BHE has a seat in the search and selection committee, approves recommended presidential appointments and sets presidential compensation. In addition, the president is annually evaluated with the participation of the Commissioner and based on criteria established by the BHE. The Department of Higher Education is one of three education agencies in the Commonwealth. The Executive Office of Education facilitates communication and coordination between and among those three educational agencies.
The Board of Higher Education is responsible for establishing statewide goals for the community colleges and state universities.
During the September 2018 BHE retreat, the BHE proposed to members a new direction for the public higher education system that called for BHE and DHE, in partnership with Massachusetts public higher education institutions, to develop a statewide strategic plan focused on equity. This work was codified in a December 2018 vote of the BHE, in which the BHE recognized equity as the top statewide policy and performance priority for the public higher education system. The expectation of The Equity Agenda is that, by focusing on equity in its policies, programs, and initiatives, the Massachusetts system of public higher education will enhance economic and social mobility for all citizens, but particularly for those who have historically been underserved and underrepresented, especially students of color, throughout all levels of education.
Each year the Board of Higher Education collects data tracking progress on these outcomes for each college, and shares these data with presidents and campus boards. The board also has launched a major initiative to achieve cost savings through heightened collaboration among the colleges and universities, and asks the individual colleges to participate in these efforts.
As a point of access for underrepresented students, Holyoke Community College attracts a growing population of nontraditional and diverse students. Holyoke Community College became a Hispanic Serving Institution in 2016. Twenty-eight percent of our students self-identified as Hispanic, so we are now a “Hispanic Thriving Institution.” There are significant populations of first-generation college students (48%), students of color (42%), low-income students (40% Pell-eligible), and students with disabilities (16%). Adult students at HCC account for one-third of all students and, in FY22, 57 percent of the non-credit students identified as BIPOC and 74 percent identified as female.
For the last ten years, Holyoke Community College has experienced a decrease in enrollment, with 3,550 students enrolled in fall 2022. The recent decline in enrollment comes due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the student headcount in fall 2022 dropped 27% from fall 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 5% from fall 2021.
Mission and Direction
In 2019, Holyoke Community College implemented a strategic plan that reinforced our mission and vision, named our values, and articulated four pillars of success: teaching and learning; inclusion and student success; workforce development and transfer; and sustainability. That plan was updated for 2023-2026, with the pillars updated to: teaching and learning; equity and student success; workforce development and transfer; and financial sustainability.
Educate. Inspire. Connect.
Holyoke Community College aspires to be a college of academic excellence known for helping students overcome barriers to success.
Kindness, inclusion, and trust are the foundations of the work that we do together. Innovation and collaboration enable us to explore and implement the ideas that will shape our future.
STUDENT EXPERIENCE STATEMENT
Holyoke Community College commits to delivering a transformational student experience characterized by:
Faculty and staff of Holyoke Community College commit to support this transformative experience through:
A Mission of Access
Holyoke Community College fulfills its mission of serving the region and beyond by providing clear pathways for students to achieve their academic and career goals. The college offers Associate in Arts (A.A.) and Associate in Science (A.S.) degrees with approximately 66 degree and 37 certificate programs, as well as adult basic education courses (on campus and at locations in Ware and downtown Holyoke), high-school equivalency prep and testing, and bridge-to-college preparation programs for adults.
In addition, the Holyoke Community College Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development offers an array of non-credit job skills training and certification programming and comprehensive services for employers, including custom workforce skills evaluations and trainings through Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration with Springfield Technical Community College. The Kittredge Center also offers a wealth of personal enrichment classes and summer youth programs.
The Holyoke Community College Office for Students with Disabilities and Deaf Services (OSDDS) – a leader among colleges in Massachusetts for such services – works to ensure access, both on-campus and online, for students with disabilities and Deaf students. OSDDS works with the faculty and staff who educate and provide services to HCC students, and supports the Assistive Technology Training Center, which offers assessment, training, and access to a variety of academic computing programs. Thirteen percent of HCC students have a documented disability, and we have invested significant resources in high-touch, wrap-around support services for this population. HCC excels in this area, which is likely why our completion rates for these students are higher than some others.
Holyoke Community College also is home to one of the nation’s most successful Gateway to College programs, which offers students between ages 16-20 the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma while earning college credits towards an associate degree or certificate. Part of a national network that includes 31 programs in 18 states, the HCC Gateway program has earned national recognition for its extraordinary success.
Focus on Student Success
Resources available through a variety of campus services help students concentrate on what matters most: their studies.
Preparation for Accomplishment
Holyoke Community College is committed to offering its students a challenging, exciting, and rigorous education. Integrative Learning Programs at Holyoke Community College promote teaching and learning across the curriculum and foster connections, within the classroom and beyond, to local communities, businesses, nonprofits, colleges, and universities. Through Learning Communities (team-taught courses that view a shared theme through an interdisciplinary lens), Service Learning (in which students complete a project in the community that meets both the objectives of the course and the needs of a community-based organization), and the Honors Program (in which our students learn to think critically, reason clearly, and argue persuasively). To foster academic success, the College provides free and comprehensive academic support services to our students. The Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) offers assistance to all Holyoke Community College students at its tutoring, writing, ESL, and math centers. Each semester, CAPS provides study groups and study skills workshops, such as the free and well-attended Math Mini Prep. Additionally, CAPS provides specialized academic programs such as Supplemental Instruction (SI), learning coaches, and peer mentoring. Beyond CAPS, the college is home to a wealth of resources.
El Centro provides culturally responsive guidance and support to enable Latinx students to achieve academic success. The Center for Career Development assists students with career exploration, planning, advising, and job placement. Focused programs include two TRIO programs (one that is focused on STEM and health careers). The Pathways program helps promising students explore and prepare for transfer opportunities to selective liberal arts colleges such as Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire, Amherst, and more. These, as well as New Directions (for adults and veterans), ALANA Men in Motion (for African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American men), and SAMP (the Student Ambassador and Mentorship Program, which prepares women, non-binary, and transgender students for leadership roles) provide academic support, mentoring, and counseling.
A Tradition of Transfer
Holyoke Community College takes special pride in its success as a transfer institution, a tradition manifested and supported by numerous articulation agreements (including online degree options) with four-year institutions. The top community college feeder for University of Massachusetts Amherst and Westfield State University, Holyoke Community College also is known as an outstanding springboard to institutions such as Amherst College, Brandeis University, Cornell University, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and several others. Students interested in transferring to a selective liberal arts college can take advantage of our free Pathways program, which offers academic and personal advising, workshops, college visits, career and college major exploration, and assistance with the transfer process.
A Vibrant Campus Life
Students may not live on campus, but there is plenty to do before and after classes. Art exhibits at the Taber Art Gallery, concerts at the Leslie Phillips Theater, and a changing roster of speakers, activities, and events keep the campus buzzing. Students can get involved with Student Senate, Phi Theta Kappa international honors society for two-year colleges, or one of more than 30 active clubs and organizations, including the WCCH radio station and Pulp City literary magazine. There is a weekly dedicated activity period for student engagement and activities. The HCC Student Engagement office supports student success at HCC by providing student-led and engaging co-curricular programming that encourages active and meaningful participation by all members of the campus community.
The Bartley Center for Athletics & Recreation boasts a three-court gymnasium, seven new indoor pickleball courts, fitness center, multipurpose studio, steam and sauna facilities, and classes in everything from aerobics to Zumba. College athletic teams include baseball, basketball, volleyball, golf, cross-country, and soccer. A member of the National Jr. College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the Massachusetts Community College Athletic Conference, the Holyoke Community College Cougars compete at state and regional levels.
Growing to Meet the Needs of the Community
Holyoke Community College has made substantial investments to meet the changing needs of a diverse community. In 2013, the college began extending its footprint to downtown Holyoke.
Located at 206 Maple Street, the Picknelly Adult & Family Education Center was established by members of the Juntos Collaborative, Holyoke Public Schools, and Holyoke Community College to provide Holyoke residents with adult basic education and related services in an easily accessible location. The 16,000-square-foot, multi-level space features classrooms, computer labs, offices, counseling space, meeting rooms, and testing facilities. Services offered include HiSET preparation and testing, college transition programs, English for Speakers of Other Languages classes and support, free and low-cost technology classes, family literacy classes, workforce development training, career counseling, and college admissions counseling.
The Holyoke Community College Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center provides free instruction in English for Speakers of Other Languages to improve their communication skills for college, careers, and community engagement. Morning and evening classes are offered in levels ranging from true beginner to advanced. In addition, students work with an academic and career advisor, and build technology skills. This free program serves adults in the Ludlow/Indian Orchard/greater Springfield area who are immigrants or refugees, and provides support for transitioning to college, workforce development, family literacy skills, and more. Students range in age from 17 to 70+. HCC also provides leadership for the Springfield Adult Learning Center (SALC). In collaboration with Springfield Technical Community College, the SALC provides English for Speakers of Other Languages programming. HCC is the leader of ESOL instruction in the region.
The Holyoke Community College Center for Health Education & Simulation supports healthcare programs and workforce development through hands-on clinical learning experiences using current technology, medical equipment, and human patient simulators. The approximately 10,449 square foot space includes classrooms that can be converted into large lab spaces, student study space, a radiology suite with mock equipment, a large radiology image library, and an image critique room. Two debrief rooms, four private patient simulation rooms, two semi-private patient simulation rooms, three control rooms, prop storage, prep spaces and two larger multi-bed lab spaces can be transformed into acute (medical surgical, OR, ER, women's health) or community (home, outpatient medical office, street) environments in which students advance their education and skill.
Located at 164 Race Street, the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute houses our hospitality and culinary arts programs in a 20,000 square-foot teaching and training facility on the first two floors of The Cubit Building, a former factory in Holyoke’s Innovation District. The culinary arts program is the only one in the Massachusetts state college system accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Workforce development hospitality training opportunities include line cook and hotel occupational training. The facility also has a hotel learning lab. Recently, a 20-foot, state-of-the-art food truck, or “kitchen on wheels,” was acquired. It is expected to increase our community engagement and outreach in the areas of healthy food preparation and nutrition.
Other additions include the Cannabis Education Center, a partnership of Holyoke Community College and Elevate, which is an innovative learning partnership for those currently working or seeking positions in the cannabis industry.
And, on the main campus, a $44 million renovation to the college Campus Center, funded by the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and dedicated in February 2020, created a beautiful new space for current and prospective students, families, and members of the community. The three-floor, 66,000-square-feet facility was renovated to include aesthetic improvements, an additional 9,000 square feet of space, an expanded dining area, a west-side atrium entrance, an east-side bridge entrance, exterior waterproofing, and accessibility improvements.
In the variety of ways detailed here, HCC continues to deepen and expand its commitment to making higher education and workforce training accessible to a wide spectrum of students.