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New England College to open site in downtown Concord

New England College is planning to open a campus in downtown Concord.

Officials at the private college in Henniker hope to lease space on Main Street, where they will establish a presence in the city, offer classes designed for adults and partner with local organizations for internships and hands-on learning.

No location has been chosen, but the school has looked at several downtown buildings, said Paula Amato, vice president for finance and administration.

“Our goal is to have something up and running for the fall semester,” she said. “So if we get into some negotiations and they go well, then that would happen.”

Amato said the new space would likely have two classrooms, office areas and open areas for people to enter and learn about the school or meet with admissions representatives. She hopes to lease a space of up to 2,000 square feet.

A Concord campus has “the potential to create great partnerships with Concord-area residents and organizations, and in the process have our students really putting into action principles that they learned in the classroom,” said Mark Watman, interim vice president for academic affairs.

A building in Concord would become the college’s first site outside Henniker. The idea came from a strategic planning process at the college in 2011, Watman said.

“We talked about creating avenues where we could connect to the broader New Hampshire environment, connect to nonprofit agencies that we thought have strong affinities with our mission,” he said. “And the Concord initiative, I think, kind of grew out of that process.”

With a central location in Concord, Watman said the school could broaden its reach to working adults and others who can’t attend a residential college.

“I think that we would start with courses and programs that would potentially be geared more towards the adult learner, people who might have challenges getting to the Henniker campus during our traditional day-school times and locations,” Watman said.

The college rents a room in the Heights for some graduate courses, Amato said. But a downtown site and expanded program offerings would give New England College a visible presence in Concord.

Some courses could become even more flexible through online components, Watman said. He said an accessible location in Concord can provide “the kind of one-on-one customized type of education that we offer here on the ground with our students in these alternative formats.”

The Concord campus would also offer internships and hands-on learning opportunities for its Henniker-based students.

Watman said partnerships with Concord organizations would be modeled after pilot programs the college has created with the Midway Shelter in Bradford, Project Genesis teen center in Hillsboro and Rush Square housing for the elderly in Henniker.

“We have brought interns into those areas to work closely with the residents and really have found partnerships that have been greatly rewarding to the students as well in the process,” Watman said.

The college has appointed psychology professor Larry Taylor to serve as director of the new center in Concord; Watman said Taylor has experience connecting students with organizations and encouraging community outreach.

“This is the kind of work that we have been committed to for many years at New England College, and we just want to branch out and create new types of partnerships with new community members in the Concord area,” Watman said.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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