Regis College is on the rise. Since its inception in 1927, Regis had been an all-female Catholic school, founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston. Over the past decade, new leadership has driven initiatives to increase enrollment and establish the college as an educational leader in STEM and health care industries in the Boston area.
The Regis administration has been smart and nimble in making its stewardship decisions. Over the last ten years, they made strategic, surgical investments to focus time and resources in the right places—and it's working. In that short time, the college made the switch to a co-ed campus, undergraduate enrollment increased by 40 percent, graduate enrollment tripled, and annual revenues are consistently up, as reported in a recent Boston Globe article on Regis' "remarkable turnaround."
These great strides can be attributed to the new leadership and their careful attention to providing what today's students most want and need from a college experience. Their understanding of the changing dynamics of student needs is evident in their strategic plan for the future of the college. Antoinette M. Hays, Regis College President since 2011, has been at the helm of this transformation. She championed many of the new investments made to deliver upon the plan, injecting targeted funding into improvements to the built environment and the student life experience that bring the greatest payoff for her most important stakeholders—the students.
As a firm that is so involved at varying scales and geographies for campus planning, Sasaki was uniquely suited to tackle the redesign of Regis' campus and each problem set. "The beauty of [the master plan] is not its size but its impact," says Vinicius Gorgati, principal in charge on the project. "Our comprehensive master plan takes into account the context of scale and personality at Regis, leveraging existing assets and elevating quality of significant portions of the campus."
Sasaki's relationship with Regis College dates back to when the college administration was developing the strategic plan. Sasaki was engaged to design the campus master plan as Regis activated the strategic plan. The administration and Sasaki recognized that for Regis College to thrive as a competitive school in the region, it needs to consistently demonstrate that it will provide students with the proper environment to foster engagement, collaboration, and a strong sense of community as the bedrock to successful student life. It was also a goal of Hays' to reposition the college as an international institution, drawing in students from around the world through delivery of updated amenities, and a widening selection of degree programs. To that end, the core components of the school's strategic plan are:
• to build and strengthen community
• bolster fiscal engagement
• and cultivate character in the college's mission and identity
With those values in mind, as well as the charge to enhance living-learning community on campus, Sasaki developed a campus master plan to support Regis' strategic aims—including enhancements to existing buildings, landscape, circulation and infrastructure on campus.
The implementation of Sasaki's master plan for Regis aims to help reposition Regis as a current, dynamic, forward-thinking institution through interventions in the organization and design of the physical campus. Students could benefit from a more pedestrian-friendly campus with more inviting green gathering spaces and mixed-use building amenities. Several enhancements to the campus are being implemented, such as: a new residential hall with living/learning components, a new green quad at the heart of campus (which currently serves as a parking lot), energizing mixed-use space around the new quad to create a synergistic environment for students, upgrades to the library to enhance learning, expansion of the science center, as well as more engagement spaces to give students a reason to linger on campus and spur student involvement in campus life both inside and outside of the classroom.
In her discussion with The Boston Globe, President Hays stated that due to the changing global economy and job market, today's atmosphere positions higher education as a means to employment come graduation. She understands that millennials want a diverse curriculum that provides them liberal arts and professional studies experience, leading to a better opportunity to be hired right out of school. Hays' administration listens carefully, and it shows in their remarkable growth. Sasaki, too, made sure to listen carefully to Regis' aspirations when delivering a campus master plan that is well on its way to being implemented.
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