Massachusetts education chief to talk college closures in Amherst

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    Carlos Santiago, commissioner of higher education for Massachusetts, speaks May 23, 2018, on "Latinx Students in Public Higher Education" at Holyoke Community College. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2019 5:00:16 PM
Modified: 7/5/2019 5:00:05 PM

AMHERST — The state’s commissioner of higher education is set to visit Amherst for a forum to discuss college closures, their impact and how to prevent them.

The offices of state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, have organized the forum with Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. Comerford’s office billed the event as a “regional conversation on the topic of preventing and addressing the impact of college closures.” It will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, July 26, at Amherst Town Hall.

“We’re extremely excited that he’s coming,” Domb said Thursday. 

Amherst is no stranger to the conversation around college financial struggles. 

Hampshire College announced earlier this year that it was facing deep financial struggles, leading to arguments about the future of the college. The school’s board of trustees voted in February to accept only a tiny class this fall, leading to widespread layoffs and faculty reductions, which in turn had tertiary effects on the town and the local economy.

“The ripple effect is significant,” Domb said.

Comerford and Domb have both pushed for a trip to Amherst to be included in Santiago’s plans this summer. 

“I’m a little disappointed with the time,” Domb said, referring to the fact that so many members of the Five College community are out of town or busy for the summer.

In order to ensure that the whole community can have questions answered, the lawmakers are asking community members to submit questions on social media using the hashtag #askDHE. They will also facilitate involvement in the meeting via social media and a live Facebook feed, according to Comerford’s office.

“This event is an informal opportunity for community members to learn about the governor’s proposal for preventing closures and voice questions, concerns, and recommendations with the Commissioner,” Comerford’s Director of Constituent Engagement Sam Hopper wrote in an email.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at
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