By Collin Atwood
On Monday, Sept. 21, students and faculty were welcomed to attend Springfield College’s annual All College Meeting. If times were normal, the meeting would have been held in Blake Arena like it has been in years past. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. This year Springfield College held its first, and hopefully last, Virtual All College Meeting.
President Mary-Beth Cooper opened up by acknowledging the fact that the college had to make some difficult decisions due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We approach these decisions being mindful of three priorities,” Cooper said.
The three main priorities were preserving the school’s core mission, keeping the employees at the forefront and making sure that Springfield College maintains its stability.
Cooper then got into the budget issue that the college has faced. “The impact on our budget was clear and significant,” Cooper said.
The estimated impact to the budget related to COVID-19 was about four million dollars. Other private colleges that are about the same size produced similar results. Action was taken right away concerning the budget. Some actions include freezing hiring, suspending travel and significantly reducing budgets.
Cooper states that some staff members did have to be furloughed, but many have returned.
“Our budget difficulties are not behind us and we continue to evaluate our options for achieving a balanced budget. We’re not there yet,” Cooper said.
Unlike most schools, Springfield College exceeded its enrollment goal by having 622 first year students enroll in Springfield College this semester. That is the largest first year class since 2016.
After giving high praise to the enrollment process, Cooper then dove into COVID-19 testing at Springfield College. “A key to welcoming students back was establishing a testing protocol that would allow us to identify positive cases among the student body as early as possible.”
Like many other schools in Massachusetts, Springfield College partnered with the Broad Institute from MIT for its testing program.
Over 5,500 tests have been given at the college and just two people have tested positive for COVID-19. “This is again an example of Springfield College and our students approaching this pandemic from a Humanics perspective,” Cooper said.
Cooper then introduced three speakers who each talked on their respective topics. Sofija Zargins spoke on behalf of the Faculty Senate, Jen Vigneault spoke on behalf of the Staff Council and Freddy Clark spoke on behalf of the Student Government Association (SGA).
The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) was the next topic of discussion. “Once a decade, every ten years, whether you like it or not, colleges and universities receive federal financial aid. Those that receive federal financial aid participate in a voluntary peer review process through our regional accreditation agency,” Cooper said.
From Sept. 27-30, eight volunteers from other New England institutions will be virtually visiting Springfield College. “While we’ve been managing a global pandemic, we’ve also been immersed in the work of evaluating what we do against the nine standards of accreditation,” Cooper said.
Cooper wants the campus community to know that the college is in a strong position and is financially sound.
Cooper moved on to discuss the work being done to address anti-racism and social justice. “I want to acknowledge and thank the students who bravely and candidly shared their experiences and concerns, but also their hopes and expectations of this community.”
To help contribute to change on campus, the Campus Program Planning Committee on Race introduced 17 priorities to focus on. “I encourage you, if you are a person who wants to make Springfield College better, to join one of these committees,” Cooper said.
Cooper puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that this is not on the back burner and is a daily priority. She plans to meet with student leaders today to talk about more that can be done tomorrow.
“We will make sure that this work continues to be a high priority.”
To close the meeting off, Cooper announced the Cheney award recipients, Brian and Deleney Magoffin. Brian is the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications and Deleney is the Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Campus Visits.
The Magoffins won this award because of their loyalty to Springfield College and because of their commitment to the Humanics philosophy.
Cooper officially ended the meeting on a positive note telling everyone who attended how much she loves being President of Springfield College.
“We’re going to be here another 135 years and I’m going to make sure of it.”
Next week, a more in-depth story on Brian and Deleney Magoffin winning the Cheney award will be written.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Marketing & Communications