At Bay Path University, US Rep. Richard Neal announces a $1M grant to the Student Success Center

LONGMEADOW — U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal visited Bay Path University on Friday and announced a $1 million funding allocation for a student success center that can help students, sometimes even before the students know they need help.

It’s called predictive technology, said Heather Gould, associate dean of advisory and student support at Bay Path University. It can determine if a student hasn’t logged into course materials or watched a remote course.

“That could be a sign that a student doesn’t feel ready,” Gould said. “Or that she starts fighting.”

Approximately 80% of Bay Path’s student body are Pell Grant eligible, as are the first generation of their families to go to college. This can make it difficult to navigate the institution and get the help they need.

The Student Success Center Center will provide coordinated, comprehensive academic, financial and professional development support services that are easily accessible 24/7 both online and on campus.

“Whatever a student needs, we have it ready for her,” said Kathleen M. Bourque, vice president of university relations and board liaison.

Bay Path has approximately 2,500 students, and only 600 of them are students taking classes on the Longmeadow campus. It is a women’s institution, but men can enroll in graduate programs and take courses, but cannot enroll in undergraduate programs.

Neal said he always enjoys the opportunity to visit the Bay Path campus.

“The beauty of coming to Bay Path University is always good news,” Neal said.

This project is one of fifteen congressional-led spending projects — earmarkings — submitted by Neal totaling more than $20 million in the 1st congressional district. Recipients include $1 million for a wastewater operations center in Westfield and $3 million for a cybersecurity program at Union Station in Springfield.

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Bay Path and its cybersecurity program is a leader in Union Station’s cybersecurity facility.

A government spending bill signed in April 2022 included 4,975 such projects, worth $9.7 billion, according to the Associated Press. It was the first time in 11 years that these projects had reappeared in spending accounts.

“As you know, the general public tends to object to government spending,” Neal said. “But they support it in particular. That is an important consideration.”

Neal stressed that Congress — of which he has been a member since his first election in 1988 — is the branch of the federal government closest to the public. All earmarking requests, he said, would be subject to peer review.

But the ear tags have repeatedly been criticized. And that will be reinforced with the new Republican majority.

“You’re going to move on,” Neal said after his prepared remarks. “We will continue these projects.”

Members of the House of Representatives just this week received new guidance that restricts earmarking to certain parts of the budget and prohibits earmarking of for-profit entities.

Neal said inquiries come to him from hospitals, local governments and colleges. The Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate have different proposals for targets that need to be worked out.

“There are significant differences between the parties here,” he said. “Like day and night.”