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Presidents of community colleges in Western Massachusetts defend their campuses in wake of critical report by Boston group

The Republican
Presidents of community colleges in Western Massachusetts are taking exception to a new report that calls for overhauling state governance of the schools to improve the way they train students for jobs.

The report says a central board should govern the state's 15 community colleges and that local boards of trustees should only be advisory. Trustees for the colleges are currently given broad powers to manage personnel and business at the campuses, said the report.

Robert L. Pura, president of Greenfield Community College, said the college boards are comprised of leaders in the region who know the needs of businesses and people in the area. Pura said local trustees should keep their current powers.

"We're not called Greenfield State College," Pura said. "We're called Greenfield Community College for a reason."

The report, labeled "The Case for Community Colleges: Aligning Higher Education and Workforce Needs in Massachusetts," was financed by The Boston Foundation, a civic group and major provider of grants to nonprofit organizations.

The report said that the colleges are hurt by low graduation rates, cuts in state funding and a lack of accountability.
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