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March 29, 2021

After Becker's closing, Clark to absorb game design, esports programs

Photo | Courtesy | Becker College Roughly 100 Becker College students participate in esports clubs.

Becker College will stop operations at the close of the spring semester, but a few of its best known programs will live on through a Worcester neighbor, Clark University.

Clark said Monday — just hours after Becker announced it would close permanently — it is starting the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark University, which will include two celebrated elements of Becker's video game studies: game design and esports, along with integrated graphic design. Clark has separately reached an agreement with Becker to allow students in business, criminology and computer science to complete their degrees at Clark.

“We proudly welcome Becker students to Clark University, and we’re thrilled not only to continue these signature Becker programs, which are already among some of the best in the world, but also to expand them and broaden their scope,” Clark President David Fithian said in a statement.

Becker created the country's first esports management program and was the first college in Massachusetts to offer scholarships to varsity esports student-athletes. Last year, its undergraduate video game design program was rated No. 2 in America by The Princeton Review publication. 

For at least the upcoming academic year, Clark said it intends to keep those programs on the Becker campus. Becker School of Design & Technology Dean Alan Ritacco and Associate Dean Paul Cotnoir will continue their leadership roles in the newly established school at Clark, as will faculty members, Clark said.

[Related: Becker is becoming a leader in the $1B esports industry]

Clark is also accepting students in business, computer science, criminal justice and sports management.

Clark is one of a few Central Massachusetts colleges coming to the aid of Becker students. Assumption University, Fitchburg State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute were among those issuing statements Monday pledging support for Becker students.

WPI said it has also agreed to admit returning students in good academic standing within the interactive media programs, including game art, game design, game development and programming, game audio and game production and management. The transfer process will be simplified for those students, with WPI providing academic advising and support.

WPI, which is located only a few blocks away from Becker, said it has also proposed housing the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, or MassDiGI, which has been based on the Becker campus. The neighboring colleges share game design programs that are renowned in the field, with both landing among the best such programs by the Princeton Review, and they've collaborated on programs at MassDiGI game projects and in co-hosting International Game Developers Association events.

Photo | Grant Welker
MassDiGI Executive Director Timothy Loew, left, talks with U.S. Rep. James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, and Debra Bevin, the Massachusetts economic development specialist from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Economic Development Administration at the Barrett Center at Becker College.

Quinsigamond Community College has an agreement in place to accept Becker students in associate degree programs in business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education and nursing education.

“It is with a heavy heart that we learned of the impending closing of Becker College, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in our region. Becker has made a profound and lasting impression on our community and many QCC transfer students,” QCC President Luis Pedraja said in a statement.

Among others, Assumption has agreed to take in students studying business, computer science, exercise science, graphic design, nursing and psychology. Worcester State University is accepting transfers in biology, business, computer science, criminal justice, early childhood education, health science, nursing and psychology. 

Elsewhere nearby, Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner is open to students transferring in associate degree programs in business, early childhood education, veterinary technology and criminal justice. Dean College in Franklin has agreed to take transfer students in biology, business, criminal justice, exercise science, psychology and sports management. Fitchburg State has reached an agreement for biology, computer science, criminal justice, exercise science, graphic design, interactive media design, nursing, and graduate mental health counseling.

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