For just the second time in its history, the Springfield College all college meeting was open for student attendance this past Monday.
President Mary-Beth Cooper opened the doors of the Blake Arena Gym, had the bleachers pulled from their place in the walls, and lined the wooden floors with rows of chairs to face a large stage where she would give a sort of State of the Union Address — that is, to talk about how Springfield College has grown since last year, and present the Cheney Award to a deserving faculty or staff member.
The meeting began with Cooper welcoming all of the new staff, faculty, and students on campus and asked them to stand to be recognized.
She then dove into a recap of the “Campus Master Plan” from last year’s meeting, which included relocations of the Counseling Center, pushing the parking lots out to the edge of campus, and building multiple new locations such as retail stores and a coffee house.
Cooper extended an invitation to everyone at the meeting to be a part of all of the planning committees needed to make these projects happen.
“You’ll be hearing more about all of these great initiatives in the next coming months; if you want to be a part of any of these planning committees, please let either myself know or the Vice President or one of your Deans,” Cooper said.
After reviewing last year’s meeting, Cooper began to discuss Springfield College’s recognition in the Top 20 Best Schools in the North by US News.
“Applications are up. Enrollment is rising. Not only are we ranked 19th in the Best Regional Universities in our category, we are the highest ranked school in Western Massachusetts in our category,” said Cooper, who was met with an explosion of applause. “This marks the 10th consecutive year our overall rankings have increased… we’ve moved up nine spots since last year.”
The current financial stability of Springfield College is just as strong as the growth it is facing, with an official endowment number of $80 million. Cooper also said that Springfield is in the midst of a silent campaign, meaning it will not release to the public what the goal of the campaign is until it reach $30 million of their $50 million goal, but stated that it have already raised $19 million since beginning the campaign in January of this year.
A recurrent theme the President discussed thoroughly in her speech was “courage.” Cooper quoted former student, current Peace Corps volunteer, and future social worker, Alexis Jelm, in this part of her speech.
“‘I will be striving to be comfortable in settings where I will be uncomfortable at the start.’”
Cooper said this resonated with her, because she knows that change is almost always uncomfortable and difficult at the start, but that courage was important for “every aspect of our lives.’”
Cooper then went on to praise the faculty for its hard work and dedication to the school, as well as talk about the student trustees and female equity throughout the campus. Partnerships with places such as Educare Springfield and the MLB will help Springfield to stay stable and strong through the years, Cooper added.
Finally, Cooper announced that this year’s winner of the Cheney Award had an office that was “a temple of student appreciation… walking into it you find artwork, cards, tokens of appreciation, quotes, and an immediate undeniable understanding that this individual is deeply cared for by others and the feeling is mutual.” Cooper listed all of the attributes of the winner and named Gary R. Enright as the Cheney Award recipient.
Enright has been the Associate Director of the Counseling Center at Springfield for the last 23 years and an adjunct instructor for the Springfield College Department of Psychology for the past 26 years.
Enright also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Springfield College in 1979 and a Master of Education degree, also from Springfield College, in 1987. His early career path was him working as a teacher with troubled teens, which inspired him to return to Springfield in 1994 and he has remained ever since.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Marketing & Communications