Space Reduction Plan
One strategy in Smith’s $20 million budget reduction plan, brought on by the global economic downturn and adopted in 2009, called for the reduction of the college’s use of space by 5 percent, or 150,000 square feet.
A review of all campus buildings—academic, residential and other types—was conducted by architectural consultants Bruner/Cott, who considered location, condition, cost of repair or renovation, and other factors. The review focused on buildings on the perimeter of campus, as it made sense to think about consolidating toward the core of the campus rather than have isolated buildings mixed with non-Smith properties. Buildings at the perimeter offered greater opportunity to be leased, sold, or redeveloped.
A report to the Board of Trustees recommended that five residential houses—12 and 26 Bedford Terrace, Dawes, Parsons and Parsons Annex—be closed, along with a number of faculty and administrative offices and other facilities, and that the Friedman apartment complex be replaced with new apartment-style housing.
Well before the 2009 budget-reduction plan was developed, the college had been engaged in a long-term planning process for student houses, putting some $25 million toward renovations (both large-scale and finish upgrades) on a regular schedule, and investing in a range of new options that support students’ desires for housing choice: singles, doubles, three- and four-person suites, apartments, co-ops, etc.
Residence Life staff met with residents from 12 and 26 Bedford Terrace, Dawes, Parsons and Parsons Annex, in separate groups, to discuss plans to close those houses. It was noted that the space-reduction plan would take time to implement, and that no houses would close for at least two years.
Initially, as Smith made adjustments to its enrollment, we believed that we would need fewer residential spaces. The result of a larger incoming class in 2011 and an increase in the retention rate both at the college and in the housing system meant that Residence Life needed to place new students in the houses in the years since the announcement. The college sees a pattern of stabilization following the graduation of the class of 2015.
In the fall of 2012, Student Affairs requested that the Board of Trustees reconsider the timing of the closures to support the shift in the number residential students at the college. At that time, 12 and 26 Bedford Terrace and Dawes House were changed to a May 2014 closure and Parsons and Parsons Annex were shifted to a May 2015 closure.
Residence Life staff have worked with houses during this consolidation process and meet with the residents annually.
The college has been through the house closing process before. We know and understand the importance of the relationships students have to their houses. Residence Life continues to work with the leadership in the houses to discuss legacies and archiving the history of each space.