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American International College nursing program will relocate off campus after fire destroys building

 American International College's Courniotes Hall was destroyed by a fire on July 27, 2023.
Caitlin Reardon
American International College's Courniotes Hall was destroyed by a fire on July 27, 2023.

City of Springfield and American International College officials believe the college's student nursing facility could be a total loss after the building caught fire during Thursday’s storm.

Courniotes Hall houses some of AIC’s health science courses – a program made up of about 400 to 500 students – including the nursing major.

Officials say the building’s second floor was destroyed by the fire, causing a collapsed roof. The first floor was flooded with water.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but police and fire officials said a lightning strike could be a possibility.

AIC President Hubert Benitez said nursing equipment lost in the fire is “extremely expensive.”

“All the simulation[s] for [the] center for nursing takes place here, so that’s our immediate need – how do we provisionally…how do we temporarily adjust our teaching plans, so students get the same experience, because we are committed to that,” he said.

As the fall semester approaches, Benitez and Mayor Dominic Sarno are discussing plans to relocate the nursing program and other affected health science classes. The unoccupied Homer Street School, which is soon to be integrated into the new DeBerry-Swan School opening this fall, could potentially accommodate the students to continue their education.

“We’ll assist them any way we can," Sarno said. "We’re gonna shake the trees, rattle the trees to see what is there for assistance financially. I’ll try to do whatever I can on the city side."

Benitez said Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and U.S. Rep. Richie Neal – an AIC alum – reached out to discuss support for the school, which plans to build a new facility to house its nursing program.

Although the nursing program will relocate off campus, the school is reassuring students that courses will start in August as usual.

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