Thursday, July 9, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009


STCC hosted this weekend, July 4th and 5th, the 3rd annual Hoop City Jazz Festival. The music was great, the weather fine, the crowds enthusiastic and the campus green lush. Kudos go to John Osborne, the festival organizer. With support this festival has a chance to grow and become one of the leading summer events in New England. (photo shows Curtis and Adrienne Smith at Festival)

The festival took place at the former Springfield Armory grounds, once the center of small arms development and production for the U.S. Army.

The closing of the Armory in 1968 by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, heralded the beginning of a rapid decline in metal manufacturing in Springfield and all of Western Massachusetts. While manufacturing continues to be an important industry locally, it has never regained its former prominence. Like older manufacturing communities, the City of Springfield is faced with the challenge of creating a new economy to provide decent paying jobs and taxes for City services. And the City needs to rethink its image and its direction.

All of this brings me back to the Hoop City Jazz festival. No other city can lay claim to having been the place where basketball was invented (in 1891 by James Naismith) nor does any other city host the Basketball Hall of Fame. Why not recast Springfield as Hoop City USA? With the growth of basketball internationally, this is a moniker that would be recognized around the world.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Value of a College Degree

Having my teeth cleaned on Thursday, I asked the dental hygienist, a pleasant and very competent individual, where she received her education. She responded, “STCC and I love my job.” I was not surprised as our college has a great dental hygiene program providing graduates to dental offices in Western Massachusetts, Central Connecticut and beyond. Being a dental hygienist was cited recently by as one the top associate degree careers with an annual salary of $64,749.

(for further information see )

Because of the stress on family finances, the economic value of a college degree has been a topic in the news. Typical of this debate was an article in the June 30 New York Times op ed blog where Liz Pulliam Weston, a personal finance columnist for MSN Money advises that ”students borrow no more for their educations, in total, than they expect to make the first year out of school.”

By this criterion, an associate degree is a good investment with full-time student costs including books and transportation less than $5000 per year - $2500 with grants - according to the US News and World Report. Massachusetts Community College costs are than the national average, but still much less than four year colleges.

The economic meltdown may result in a fundamental realignment of American higher education. A college degree is one of the most expensive purchases that most Americans make. Consumers – students and their parents – will choose colleges based on the return on what they have to pay. Colleges will be judged not just on reputation and amenities, but on a cost- benefit analysis. A key question that consumers will ask is, “How much will this college degree cost and to what kind of job and career will it lead?”