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Massachusetts News Nuggets

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has such a rich concentration of higher education, we can’t cover all of the colleges and universities. However, here is a snapshot of some:

Amherst College: A $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will be used to strengthen the academic role of the Mead Art Museum by funding a full-time coordinator of college programs. The coordinator will help engage faculty to teach with original works of art. Funds will also go toward course-development seminars, stipends for faculty guest curators of major exhibitions and two-year post-baccalaureate curatorial fellowships. The Mead Museum, which was established with funds bequeathed by architect William Rutherford Mead, houses an art collection totaling over 16,000 works.

Boston University: The New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) is the first university-based, multimedia investigative-reporting collaborative in the nation. Based in the Journalism Department of the College of Communication, NECIR will produce investigative news reports with its partners: The Boston Globe,, New England Cable News, WBUR-FM, and New England Ethnic News. Journalism students will research stories as reporter trainees guided by a faculty of veteran journalists, and a diverse group of Boston public high school students will receive internships. NECIR is funded by its partners, private contributors and grants from foundations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Clark University: The focus of the Difficult Dialogues spring symposium is race in the era of Obama. Scheduled events include a conference, workshop, gallery exhibit and lectures, such as the “Evolutionary Momentum in African American Studies” conference later this month and “The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States” lecture in April. The Difficult Dialogues program was launched with a grant from the Ford Foundation and is co-sponsored by Clark’s International Development, Community, and Environment Department; Higgins School of Humanities; and Graduate School of Management.

Curry College: A new, 84,000-square-foot student center is in the works. Construction began in March 2008 with completion scheduled in 14 to 18 months. The center will include a gym and fitness center; dining facilities and offices for student services, student government, and clubs; meeting areas; a chapel; post office; and a bookstore. The new facility is being built directly behind the existing student center, which will be razed when the new one is completed.

Emerson College: Students lead peer-group discussions on race and ethnicity through Campus Conversations on Race: a Talk Worth Having (CCOR). The groups, which are limited to 10 volunteer participants, meet in weekly two-hour sessions for five weeks. Student co-facilitators receive 16 hours of training and up to two nontuition credits. CCOR grew out of a national program from the mid-1990s called Neighborhood Dialogues on Race, which was modified for campus use by William “Smitty” Smith, executive director of the Emerson Center for Diversity in the Communication Industries. The program operates through the Department of Communication in conjunction with the Center for Diversity in the Communication Industries and the Office of Student Affairs.

Tufts University: The Neighborhood Fellows Program encourages community activists in urban Boston to enter the master’s program in Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy. The program is not open to applications; prospective students are nominated by other community leaders. Previous fellows include the executive director of one of the largest family centers in the city, an immigration-rights advocate and leaders of foundations that promote community advancement and social justice. The program, which provides tuition waivers, was founded by Dr. James Jennings, a professor of urban and environmental planning and policy, and is supported by the office of the provost and senior vice president.

University of Massachusetts Lowell: A grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services of nearly $900,000 will fund a three-year program to recruit minority and economically disadvantaged nursing students. Following approval by the enrollment committee, each student can receive a stipend for their first two years, a scholarship for their last two years, a laptop loaded with nursing software, access to academic support and counseling, and help with preparation for the national licensure examination. Primary outreach areas are Lowell and Lawrence, which have large Hispanic and Asian populations.

Wentworth Institute of Technology: In an effort to provide equal access to the latest technology, Wentworth now issues a laptop, loaded with customized software, to all incoming students. What began in 2004 as a pilot program for architecture students has grown to encompass all majors. Representing a shift away from centralized computer labs, the laptop program allows students to integrate the computer into their work in the studio, classroom, workshop, library or wherever they are on campus. Students receive updated machines in their junior year and take them home when they graduate. Although tuition, now $21,100, was increased to cover the cost of the computers, Wentworth remains one of the more affordable private, four-year institutions in the state.

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