By Irene Rotondo
On Monday, September 24, students, faculty, and staff of Springfield College gathered together in Blake Arena for an All-College Meeting held by President Mary-Beth Cooper. The annual meeting, held to discuss the plans for the upcoming school year, usually occurs before students arrive on campus and is just open to faculty and staff. However, for the first time in Springfield College’s history, the students were invited to attend as well.
“Well, if it’s an All-College Meeting, where are the students?” This was the question President Mary-Beth Cooper posed after her first meeting, four years ago, as President of Springfield College. She decided, then and there, that she wanted her students present so they can learn about the upcoming plans and opportunities to be given to them in the next few years. Cooper felt that it was especially important for the students to be present at this 2018 meeting because of her “Campus Master Plan”, which detailed all of the upcoming improvements and renovations that Springfield will undergo in the next few years.
One of the first updates discussed, that the campus has already undergone, was the “facelift” of Judd Gymnasia. Over the summer, Judd was renovated into a new Welcome Center, where prospective students and their families will meet to tour the campus and receive important information regarding Springfield. Cooper wanted this done to provide a more welcoming area for the students.
“Our prospective students and families were coming in on the perimeter of campus and being shown in a building that had some challenges. The presentation room in that particular area had some columns in it, so the students and their families were kind of peeking around columns; it wasn’t the most ideal way to show people our campus.””
By placing the Welcome Center in Judd, Springfield is creating an easier and more accessible flow for the campus’ visitors. Cooper also discussed the new presentation area, lush with technological advancements and comfort, that will be open to faculty in the future for use during hours when it is not needed for the Welcome Center. It can hold a little less than 100 people, just enough to maintain the Springfield College home-away-from-home vibe but keep it professional. Judd has officially been renamed to the Stitzer Welcome Center and will hold an open house during the homecoming weekend, October 11-13.
Next, Cooper touched on the plan to add another green to campus. “One of the [other] things we looked at in the Campus Master Plan was the synergy between buildings… how could we create an academic quad similar to Naismith Green?”
Behind Cheney, there will soon be another quad called the Academic Green that looks like the beloved Naismith Green. The plans are to have multiple academic buildings established in that area, such as scientific structures and updated classrooms. Cheney will also be expanded and opened up in the back for access on both sides.
As Cooper moved on with her presentation, she questioned the crowd, “How many people have lived in Gulick?” A smattering of hands went up. “Okay, how many people have gotten lost in Gulick?” A murmur of laughter went around the room as almost everyone raised their hands high into the air.
“The reality of Gulick Hall is that it has almost $11 million of deferred maintenance. To replace those beautiful windows that I know you all love, alone, would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million, just to replace those. Even if you replaced those windows, and did some of the updates in terms of the roof, or the HVAC, you still would be ADA incompliant.”
After listing the downfalls of Gulick, Cooper launched into the plan of a new residence hall to be built in the same area as Gulick and into the parking lot next to where Gulick currently stands. It would feature large contemporary waterfront windows, benches, outdoor sitting areas, and an overall beautiful appearance that would appeal to the interests of incoming students and their families An honors wing in the new Gulick is also a possibility, given the “changing academic profile” of Springfield.
“People love Gulick Hall, [but] the reality is that it’s not optimal for student living.” Cooper reassured the audience that the parts of Gulick that are loved by all would not change, including the family-like relationships that the students capture within one another.
Cooper went on to list other new improvements to the campus, containing possibilities of an expanded post office, an entire coffee house, new grocery options, and even an addition of retail stores.
Afterwards, President Cooper paused for questions. Jeanne Heaton, a faculty member from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, asked, “Will there eventually be more parking areas? …with the enrollment increasing the past two years we’ve noticed substantial difference in our lot.” Cooper responded with statements on how the lots would be pushed out to the perimeters of campus, thereby allowing for more parking space and a wholesome campus feeling.
Finally, the meeting reached its end when President Mary-Beth Cooper called forth Sue Nolan to receive the 2018 Cheney Award. This honor is reserved for faculty and staff members who show exemplary service to the Springfield College community and its members. Sue Nolan had shown this during her time working here as the Dean of Students by taking on jobs that nobody else wanted to partake in and proving that working hard is what will serve you well.
Cooper ended with kind closing remarks but her statement at the beginning of the meeting was what rung true in the heads of all present:“This is the campus of the future.”
Photo courtesy of Springfield College