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Construction has been completed on the 33,000-square-foot home of Unity College’s new Technical Institute for Environmental Professions in New Gloucester.
The building is now starting to buzz with activity, with students signing up for classes set to begin Aug. 15.
The institute, located in Freeport Hall at Pineland Farms, is designed to provide access and affordability for students looking to up-skill, retrain or find new jobs in environmental fields.
Associate degree programs include veterinary technology, data analytics, information technology and renewable energy. Certifications programs are also offered.
Planning and construction for the institute took 18 months. The building also serves as a hub for other college functions, including information technology, enrollment services and financial aid.
“We now have dozens of employees working in Freeport Hall supporting students across multiple areas of the college,” Unity’s president, Melik Peter Khoury, said in a news release.
The classrooms were designed with “HyFlex” capability. HyFlex is short for hybrid-flexible and combines online and classroom components.
“All of our classrooms will have HyFlex capability,” said the institute’s dean, Amardeep Kahlon. “This is the ultimate path to equity and access. Some students are working in jobs and are unable to get the time off to come to attend in-person, or maybe they just don’t have the transportation to get here. We need to ensure those students are all on a level playing field,”
The space is part of an $8 million-dollar investment by Unity College, and is one of several being utilized by the college at Pineland Farms through a partnership with the Libra Foundation.
Additional accessibility measures include a cost for courses of $250 per credit hour for degree-seeking students; and a term model with courses starting every two weeks.
“Those highly flexible terms will allow our students to speed up their learning, allowing them to get into a career faster than ever,” said the institute’s vice president, Doreen Rogan. “It also gives students the ability to take a term or two off without losing financial aid or falling behind.”
Khoury said that, in the coming years, Unity plans to expand the institute’s model to other states seeking environmentally focused workforce development programs.
Unity College is based in New Gloucester, but has multiple campuses. Its hybrid learning arm is in Unity and serves students looking for a residential program with online offerings. Its distance education arm is based in New Gloucester serves online-only students, including many adult learners and people who work full-time while also being in school from across the country.
In recent years, the college and its extensions have grown from an enrollment of about 750 students to over 4,000.
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