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Catok Learning Commons
Catok Learning Commons
Catok Learning Commons
Catok Learning Commons
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Students, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate a area dedicated to the success of students that offers tutoring, iPad bar, and a space for group collaborative projects.

The Catok Learning Commons reflects the balance of old and the new. A nineteenth-century barn (one of the few left in Longmeadow) with the original beams and stairs made of the original flooring, it has been renovated to incorporate the newest in technology and the best practices in collaborative learning tutoring. Read President Leary’s remarks at the dedication.

Catok Learning Commons Open House Script
Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dr. Leary: Good afternoon, everyone. I am sure that you are just as amazed as I am with the transformation of this building into the Catok Learning Commons! If I were to search for a symbol of the balance between change and respect for our roots on this campus, I think Catok could be a marvelous example of how we blend the new and the old.

I would like to take a moment to thank Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Mike Giampietro, Director of Facilities Paul Stanton, and our buildings and grounds department for their efforts in this renovation. 

Also, the People’s United Community Foundation. They have given three grants over the past three years totaling $30,000 ($10,000 per grant) which have been used to provide peer and professional tutoring support targeted to the adult women in our One-Day Program, establishment of a textbook lending library (both hard copy and electronic books and resources) which serves three campuses, and support for study skills workshops. This year, the grant also made possible the acquisition of tutor scheduling software that has streamlined the process for scheduling tutors and students, while improving the tracking of tutoring data.

As I look around , Catok is brimming with technology. Imagine…two years ago would you even think we would have an iPad bar? That this space would support wireless devices? That it would be an open and engaging environment for tutoring and support? As we are continually challenged in today’s changing world, this building has been renovated to adapt and to thrive. 

Before I speak about the Catok of January 16, 2014, I want to share with you a brief story of this remarkable space. Historically, Catok is a nineteenth century barn. In fact, it is one of the oldest and few barns left in the town of Longmeadow. The original beams are still intact, and sections of the original wooden floors have been used to build the two staircases. Over 25 years ago, a friend and benefactress of the College, the artist Lottie Meyer Catok, provided the funds to renovate the barn to become an academic and art center. 

For some of you Catok is just a name on this building. But you must know that Lottie Catok was a remarkable woman of achievement who is an example to us all and lived to the age of 100! A lifelong resident of Longmeadow, she was an artist who exhibited in art shows across the country, and was elected to The Royal Society of Arts in London, and the National Society of Arts and Letters in America. A wife and mother, she found time to follow her passion: oil painting. The College owns several of her paintings, and if you are in the boardroom in Deepwood Hall, glance at the walls. Lottie did the portraits of former Bay Path President Thomas G. Carr and Jeannette T. Wright. In so many ways, her legacy lives on. 

And now the Catok Learning Commons is a new space for a new generation of students.

~ Within these walls, as I just mentioned before, will be the iPad bar. Staffed by students for students, the iPad bar shows just how fast learning is changing for all of us. A portable library, traveling notebook, and the center of a Bay Path student’s universe, in so many ways the iPad has helped revolutionize the classroom, AND lightened our backpacks. There is no turning back now!

~ This is the home of the peer tutoring program. Tutors are students who have excelled in the classroom or a particular subject and help fellow students. Among the many reasons students seek peer tutoring are the chance to work through problems, develop a better understanding of concepts, prepare for an exam, or build writing confidence. We cannot underestimate the importance of this service in the academic experience. Last semester alone, there were 1,354 tutoring appointments for a total of 1,065 hours of actual face-to-face tutoring. This is a busy place!

~ If there is a word that defines one of the best ways for students’ to learn and prepare for the future workplace, it is group collaboration. To promote collaboration one of the first things must be present is space: a place where people can gather to share strengths and also develop their weaker skills. To develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. And ultimately, to gain a greater understanding of the subjects they are exploring.

So, the Catok Learning Commons embraces many things within these four walls: history, excitement, technology, and success. And like its name implies, the Commons is a high-energy center whose doors are open to all.