'Bordering On A Crisis' As Another College Closes, And UMass Boosts Online Education

Mar 8, 2019

Leading our roundup of this week's news: Southern Vermont College in Bennington announced it will close in a few months amid mounting debt and sagging enrollment. 

SVC students in good standing will be able to complete their degrees at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in nearby North Adams, Massachusetts. Panelist Ron Chimelis said he has sympathy for the people affected.

"There has to be a solution," Chimelis said. "And the status quo is not the solution. There are other colleges considering this. This is bordering on a crisis, and I don't see it getting better without some very radical, different views and approaches by these different institutions."

And with the number of college students dwindling in New England, UMass announced this week it is looking to get into the online college business. Panelist Larry Parnass said the university's decision signifies bigger changes in higher education.

"Colleges and universities are going to face a very large reckoning, and it's partly because of the digital age," Parnass said. "It's there, and we're going to see a continuing parade of small, marginal schools coming into crisis." 

Also this week, there was word that foreclosures are on the rise across Massachusetts. According to The Berkshire Eagle, there's been a 19.3 percent increase in foreclosure auctions in Berkshire County, with about a 6 percent rise in Hampden County.

A committee released its study on bringing seasonal passenger rail service to the Berkshires to and from New York City. The so-called Berkshire Flyer would bring passengers from New York to Pittsfield on Fridays during the tourist season, with a return trip on Sundays. And a pilot service could begin as soon as next year. 

Our panelist Chimelis recently wrote about those senior discounts places like restaurants and movie theaters. He says, they are a bit of a mixed blessing. 

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