SSU BOLD: A Campus Unification and Modernization Project (BOLD) addresses the major capital needs of the university identified in the Campus Master Vision (Sasaki, 2013) by establishing a compact and efficient campus core while maximizing programmatic synergies and streamlining operations. This exciting and transformative project enhances the overall campus experience for all students and positions us well to serve the North Shore region and prepare its future workforce.
In essence, BOLD takes a multipronged approach to achieving our capital goals in a way that utilizes SSU’s and the Commonwealth’s resources in the most efficient way for both time and budget. It includes the sale of South Campus; the renovation of the Horace Mann Building; the construction of a Meier Hall Addition, which will house much needed, new wet labs for our life sciences; and the repurposing of underutilized space in the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons for instruction.
Components of SSU BOLD
Divestment of South Campus
The sale of South Campus allows SSU to unify our academic programs, physically bringing our community closer together and allowing for increased multidisciplinary collaboration that will improve student experience and retention. South Campus houses most of the programs in the Maguire Meservey
College of Health and Human Services (MMCHHS) in a building that requires significant upgrades, especially in the nursing and occupational therapy (OT) simulation (SIM) labs. Their South Campus location is challenging both for students and faculty because of the physical distance, approximately one mile, and travel time between campuses. These programs are further constrained by capacity as the existing SIM lab spaces cannot accommodate student demand or clinical experiences that could be achieved in updated facilities. In addition, the student housing located on South Campus is no longer needed as there is capacity in the residence halls on North and Central Campuses. The unification of our campus through this sale reduces operational costs while also eliminating a significant amount of deferred maintenance and the need for future investments in buildings that have outlived their purposes.
Horace Mann Building Renovation
The Horace Mann Building was vacated in June of 2017, when the Salem Public Schools’ Horace Mann Laboratory School moved off campus and into a building on Willson Street. The building has sat vacant since because of the significant amount of upgrades required to open it to university use. BOLD will allow for a complete renovation of this building and the opportunity to build new SIM labs for our healthcare disciplines. Housing the majority of our South Campus programing in the Horace Mann Building provides students greater flexibility in their course scheduling, as they would no longer need to account for travel time between campuses when selecting their courses each semester. It also allows for easier interdisciplinary collaborations for faculty in areas of mutual interest, such as cybercrime, green chemistry, crime mapping, and climate resiliency. Additionally, it provides spaces for much improved nursing and OT SIM labs with greater capacity.
Meier Hall Addition
The Meier Hall Addition brings seven new, state-of-the-art wet labs to SSU. It provides much needed, modernized and flexible lab space for biology and chemistry that cannot be retrofitted into the existing space built in the 1960s, while keeping all courses in these programs housed within the same building. The flexible design of the labs within the addition increases capacity for our science programs and allows for multiple programmatic uses, creating greater flexibility in course scheduling, student and faculty research, and alternative delivery methods. The addition also frees up space in Meier Hall where biology and chemistry courses are currently taught, increasing capacity for courses that require less specialized spaces, all while adding capacity for general education and healthcare support courses. The new facilities will give our students authentic lab experiences which correspond to those they will find in graduate school and the workforce.
Berry Library Instructional Space
Repurposing underutilized space in the Berry Library and Learning Commons into four new flexible teaching spaces assists the university in two ways. First, it provides swing space for classes that will need to be relocated during the construction of the Meier Hall Addition. More importantly, however, it will accommodate the remaining South Campus programming, as well as other teaching and research activities, to make the full consolidation possible. Every department on campus will have access to these spaces and will benefit from having all of our academic programs within close proximity.
Meeting the Needs of Our Region's Workforce
BOLD supports the growing demand for qualified, high-skilled workforces in the biotech, life science and healthcare industries in our region. The 2018 Northeast Labor Market Blueprint states that healthcare is facing significant workforce development challenges. Additionally, the North Shore is seeing an increase in the workforce needs of the life science industry, which includes lab technicians, lab technologists and biological technicians. Similar to the rest of the Commonwealth, the Northeast Region has seen a growth in healthcare related occupations since 2012, and projections in these areas suggest there will continue to be a demand for healthcare professionals in the years to come with a projected growth of 12 percent overall, roughly 10,770 jobs, by 2022.
With 20.5 percent of the 200 largest employers in Essex County as part of the healthcare and social assistance industry, long term occupational projections for the North Shore see significant increases to 2026 for nurse practitioners (28.6 percent), occupational therapists (16.7 percent),and registered nurses (15 percent). Additionally, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council estimates that by 2023, there will be an additional 12,000 jobs in the biotech industry in Massachusetts.
BOLD increases SSU’s ability to meet these workforce challenges and provide students with academic and technical preparation that is directly comparable to the lab environments of the companies and healthcare systems where graduates are likely to work. It also provides SSU the opportunity to expand graduate level course offerings in these areas, and enables SSU to further partner with regional industries to provide employee training, certification programs, and university-provided lab services. At SSU we are educating a diverse, future STEM workforce for the region as many of our students stay on the North Shore after graduation.
SSU’s current science and SIM labs are insufficient to prepare today’s students and place our diverse student body at a disadvantage as compared to their peers at our sister institutions which have seen significant facility upgrades in these areas. There are intangible gains to be realized from investing in new facilities that will pay dividends in maximizing undergraduate recruitment, retention, and completion; thus meeting the program demands of our students and the future workforce needs of the North Shore while providing better and equitable avenues to help underrepresented students improve their social mobility.
Completed in July 2013, the SSU Campus Master Vision established a plan for the university’s presence in the greater North Shore region—a plan rooted in its academic mission and one that advances its role in community and economic development. The Campus Master Vision builds on and extends the ideas originally communicated in the 2007 Campus Master Plan. Significant deferred maintenance and an urgent need for modernized lab facilities have been consistently documented issues in each of the planning studies and were verified in a recent Readiness Study completed in 2019.
These studies, combined with the unprecedented opportunity of a vacant building on our academic hub, led to SSU BOLD. The four key principles that governed the 2013 plan remain intact through BOLD: flexibility, connectivity, identity and community. These principles reflect the university’s aspirations to establish a compact and efficient campus core that maximizes programmatic synergies and consolidates SSU’s footprint within its Central and North Campuses.
Since completion of the 2007 and 2013 planning efforts, SSU has successfully completed numerous projects to improve both the academic and student experience while addressing deferred maintenance issues within aging buildings and infrastructure. Some of these projects were completed in partnership with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), including full state funding for the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons and partial state funding (roughly 27.5 percent) for the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts renovation. Other projects were completed in collaboration with the Massachusetts State College Building Authority (MSCBA), which issued bonds that are repaid by student fees, including the Harold E. and Marilyn J. Gassett Fitness Center, Viking and Marsh Residence Halls, and the North Campus Parking Garage. SSU has also funded various leases and fit-outs to accommodate administrative and academic needs with operating funds. All of these projects demonstrate a strong commitment to implementing the Campus Master Vision and exhibit the university’s willingness to contribute its own funds toward making the vision a reality. The SSU Board of Trustees strengthened this commitment with a vote in favor of supporting SSU BOLD through a combination of university cash and debt.