Campus News News

President Mary-Beth Cooper sits down with The Springfield Student

Gabby Guerard
@GabbyGuerard

What are some of the major changes in things that are going on this year?
(The campus master plan) So we have two planning committees, one that’s working on the new Health Sciences building, and the second one is a new residence hall. So there are two planning committees that are working on what the details of those would be and where would they be located. We believe that the Health Science (building) will be on the corner across from Locklin. And then the residence hall, there’s still some debate on that, whether we put it in the parking lot between my house and Gulick, or if we find another location for it…

We’re also getting ready for our accreditation visit which is next September, so we’ve got a lot of staff, faculty, and students working on the accreditation team. We get accredited every 10 years… So they’ve got financial considerations that they are looking at and want to make sure that you will be here for the duration of all the students that you recruit…

We’re having a big President’s Gala October 26, our very first one in probably, I’d hate to say our only one, but we’re not doing it every year, but we’re doing one on Homecoming weekend to raise money for student scholarships, so we’ve put that out as a priority…

The other thing… is we are looking to relocate the Counseling Center, and give them a better environment. Mental health issues are a big issue for this community, and I think it’s really important to give them a location where they have better space, better group rooms. And so we’ll be relocating them probably next summer, but planning it all year, in terms of design and where it should be, and asking students where they would feel comfortable going, where they have enough anonymity, but also that it’s conducive to what they need to do. If you need PT, you go and you get PT, so this is just another step to remove the stigma as best we can from mental health issues, so we’ve made it a priority to find a better space for them… From our perspective, students know what a priority is for the College when you see things happen. Like a new Health Science building, you can tell what’s important… This is our signal to students saying ‘this is about you taking care of yourself’…

We’re also going to be making an announcement on November 11, we’re going to have a Veteran’s House right by the arch. It’s the brick house on the corner, that will be a veteran’s outreach center. So veterans will have a lounge in there, a space to go, computers, so they feel like they’re welcome on campus… I can’t think of another group of people who have done more service for us than veterans, so we’re going to hopefully have that done by Veteran’s Day and do our veteran’s service down there and dedicate the building.

With new students on campus, do you have any words of wisdom that you want to give to the student body?
We went over to Make Way for the Ducklings (during NSO as part of Humanics in Action), and I went with a group of people, and I was amazed by how positive this incoming class has been. You’d think somebody would complain that it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and we’re going to have to walk a quarter of a mile and do pretty tough gardening, but they were so positive and upbeat. And so I just say, ‘bring it.’ Keep bringing that energy… And the community here at Springfield college is really kept by the students. So when I see students not walking on the grass, and I see students saying hello when I’m walking from here to my house, it’s up to them to keep the community and the culture as strong as it is…

How was your summer?
My summer was nice, it was very nice. We’re here normally through the end of June, and then I spent most of July and August visiting alumni donors and talking about our campus master plan and what we’re doing… I’m working on some things for the NCAA that also took a lot of my time this summer… It’s a task force that’s looking at, it’s called NIL — Name, Image, and Likeness. The state of California is looking at giving student-athletes the opportunity to own their own name, image, and likeness, and promote themselves. Right now, you can’t do that, but California is saying student-athletes should have the same rights as other students… I represent D-III on this committee…

What are some of your favorite parts about being our president here at Springfield College?
So my perspective, I think we’ve got great faculty, they’re doing a great job, the facilities are beautiful, but hands down, it’s the students. I mean, I love being with the students. It’s fun! I have more fun sometimes Friday-Sunday than I do Monday-Thursday, because the activities that you get to go to, you see students at their best. Miracle League, I mean all of that was really powerful to see our students helping all these people and that we have a field that’s committed to it…

Any closing message?
I do think that we are a community that takes care of each other and so the message there from me would be to take care of each other. Take care of yourself, but take care of each other… I’m looking forward to a great year, and getting to know a lot of people.

Photo Courtesy Danny Priest

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