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GCC president named to New England college board

Greenfield Community College president Robert Pura.

Greenfield Community College president Robert Pura.

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College President Robert Pura will serve on a commission that evaluates New England colleges and universities — a new appointment that will allow the local community college a chance to have a voice in regional conversations about higher education.

Pura was appointed to a three-year term on the 24-member Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The accreditation commission, a branch of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, evaluates all higher education institutions throughout the six New England states.

When the commission re-accredits a college or university, it is essentially giving a stamp of approval to that school.

It means that the school is meeting certain pre-determined standards — benchmarks that include academic offerings and student resources, as well as other aspects like the school’s finances and governance model.

And as the commissioners continue to define and update those standards that schools must meet, Pura said, he will be able to include the perspective of a small rural college in those conversations.

“Every time GCC has the opportunity to sit at the tables that impact policy and resources, we have the opportunity to share the good work that’s going on in the classrooms and the offices of the college,” said Pura.

“This will only help serve the college in ensuring that our small rural experience is equal to that of a larger urban experience,” he said. “Although (the experiences are) different, they’re of equal value to the students and the communities that they serve.”

All New England colleges and universities — regardless of size, location or funding sources — periodically undergo a process to seek re-accreditation.

Schools that are due for accreditation fill out a self-evaluation. Then, a team of educators visits the school, conducts its own evaluation and then offers a recommendation to the commission.

The commission, which meets quarterly to review applications, then has final say on whether or not it will re-accredit that school, and for how long.

Pura witnessed the process as college president when an evaluation team visited GCC in October 2010. The commission ultimately granted the college a 10-year accreditation, and won’t extensively review the school again until 2020.

Pura has also been a member of three teams that visited colleges in Maine and Connecticut, and then made recommendations to the commission. He was the chair for two of those teams.

He will be the only commissioner based out of Franklin County and one of three in western Massachusetts.

Pura has worked in the state’s community college system for 34 years, including the past 12 as GCC president.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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