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News Release

June 21, 2005

Smith College's Science and Engineering Expansion:  Facts and Timeline

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—To accommodate Smith College’s pioneering engineering program, and to update and relieve crowding in existing science buildings, the college proposes to build science and engineering facilities throughout the next few decades in the area of Green Street, Belmont Avenue and West Street.

A plan for an approximately 140,000-square-foot science and engineering building at the corner of Green Street and Belmont Avenue, with classroom, office and laboratory space, will be considered by the Northampton Planning Board on June 23.

Science and Engineering at Smith
Smith is the first women’s college in the country to offer engineering.

• Smith’s engineering program has grown from an entering class of 20 in 2000 to some 135 majors and intended majors in 2004.
• Thirty percent of Smith students major in the sciences – more than three times the national average for women.
• Smith is one of the top four-year colleges sending women to doctoral studies in the sciences.
• Smith alumnae include the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the first woman computer scientist at IBM and the first woman on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Smith’s Campus Expansion
Smith is a residential college where students live on campus and walk to classes.

• Smith has less space per student than many of its peers.
Amherst - 1,000 acres for 1,600 students
Hampshire - 800 acres for 1,300 students
Mount Holyoke - 800 acres for 2,100 students
Smith - 125 acres for 2,600 students
• Most of Smith’s existing science facilities were built in the 1960s, and Smith has insufficient space for its growing science programs.
• A key factor in Smith’s ability to attract and retain world-class faculty and researchers in the sciences, and the funded research projects that accompany them, is the extent and capacity of the college’s science facilities.
• Because Smith is a liberal arts college the sciences are taught alongside and in concert with the humanities and social sciences. It would not be workable to locate one discipline on a separate campus, as is sometimes the case at a research university.
• As at peer institutions such as Mount Holyoke and Amherst, Smith expansions have always taken place within the current campus footprint or in very close proximity to the core campus.

Expansion Impact
Smith College has pledged to replace all of the affordable housing removed for its science and engineering expansion.

• Construction of the science and engineering building will require the removal of four houses containing 26 college-owned apartments.
• Smith created a $3-million fund to facilitate the affordable housing replacement.
• Many of the apartment units in the Green Street-Belmont Avenue-West Street area are currently rented at rates below current market rates because Smith chose to not aggressively increase rents in recent years.
• None of those rental units are permanently affordable; all are subject to the condominium conversion pressure impacting Northampton.
• The only way to assure permanently affordable rental housing is through legally binding deed restrictions, such as those Smith and the City are proposing for the replacement housing projected for 36 Bedford Terrace.

Smith’s Impact on Northampton
Smith is an economic and cultural driver in the region.

• Smith is one of Northampton’s largest taxpayers. Only the college’s educational facilities are exempt from local property taxes.
• Smith employs more than 1,200 people, about 500 of whom live in Northampton.
• The college has a $75-million payroll and buys nearly $8 million each year of goods and services from local businesses. Smith students spend more than $7 million, and Smith visitors an additional $1.4 million, each year.
• Smith construction projects are also a major stimulus to the local community. Construction of the engineering and molecular sciences building is expected to generate some $30 million in local spending to construction workers, vendors, suppliers and consultants.
• Since 1990, more than 794 area high school students have taken courses at Smith at no cost.
• Virtually all of the college’s buildings—including indoor and outdoor athletics facilities, performing arts venues, Museum of Art, Lyman Conservatory, Neilson Library—are open to the public and use by community groups.


Feb. 1999 Smith College Board of Trustees votes to establish engineering program, the first ever at a women’s college. The first class of engineering majors enters in fall 2000 and graduates in May 2004.

2000 Smith planning consultants examine numerous options to expand campus and select the area between Green and West Streets as the only viable option because of its proximity to the existing academic core of campus.

Smith acquires commercial and residential properties in the Green Street-Arnold Avenue-West Street area, paying fair market value.

Oct. 2003 Smith establishes a $3-million fund to help non-profit and private developers create affordable rental housing to replace the 26 apartment units displaced by the molecular sciences and engineering building. The fund would make it possible to offer replacement apartments at the same rents as the units that would be removed.

Dec. 2004 Smith offers tenants financial relocation assistance and hires a local housing relocation expert to help tailor solutions for individual tenants.

April 2005 Smith offers its building at 36 Bedford Terrace for development of permanent affordable housing. Developers respond with affordable housing proposals, which are currently under review.

June 2005 Smith will bring its plans for the proposed molecular sciences and engineering building before the Northampton Planning Board for site plan approval.

2007 Smith expects to break ground on the molecular sciences and engineering building.


For more information, visit

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Laurie Fenlason
Executive Director of Public Affairs
T (413) 585-2170
F (413) 585-2174

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