Community Meetings

March 2019 FAQs

The answers below address questions from the March 2019 Community Meetings on the following topics:

To submit other questions or ideas, please send an email to: campusmoves@simmons.edu.


About the New Science Center and Campus Moves

When will the Science renovations be done?
The construction is scheduled to start in fall 2020 after we relocate the offices currently in the space. We hope the new science space will be ready for occupancy in fall 2021.

Who makes the decision about where different departments will be located?
Our intention is to make this process as inclusive as possible while still adhering to overall needs of renovation plans. It starts with a master planning architect who is looking at the big picture to understand how different departments relate, what classroom configurations will be the most efficient, where and how students interact with each other, with faculty and with service areas, and more. They are working with a variety of people in administration and faculty leadership as the work toward a master plan.

Will the colleges be co-located?
Yes. One of the priorities for this project is to physically align the Schools and Departments within the Colleges to allow for adjacencies, collaboration and identification.

Will the design scheme be like the Ifill College renovation?
We are hoping to modernize our spaces, much like we did in the Ifill space, but we haven't yet committed to any particular design aesthetics. Ifill has demonstrated the value of more study and casual spaces which we hope to replicate.

Will the campus renovations address accessibility issues?
We will update as many campus buildings as possible to meet the City of Boston requirements in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Will we be able to insert sprinklers in all of our facilities so we don't have to use flame retardant furniture?
We're doing an assessment of what will take to bring everything up to code, and to afford the safest possible environment for the community.

Will we lose classroom space?
We're doing a classroom utilization study with the Registrar to determine the most effective use of campus space. In addition, we are learning which classrooms are the most popular with faculty and why -- how screen placement, desk size and style, technology and other enhancements matter. We hope to make what we build more efficient and flexible and what we keep even better.

What happens to the space on campus that we lease to others?
We have given notice to our tenants and they will be vacating their space at the end of their leases (November 2019 and May 2020) to accommodate the needs for more space during the renovations.

What's the square footage in science in this new scenario?
Slightly more than what we have in Park.

Will any departments have to move off campus?
Our hope is to keep everyone on campus, but we may need to relocate some departments offsite. If that happens, the affected departments would have plenty of advance notice. Our space planners won't know if we need to consider offsite locations until they get further along in their planning. Our priority is to keep all student-facing departments and staff on campus.

What type of disruption will we experience on campus as the Lefavour renovations start?
As with any construction project, ours will have its share of inconveniences. We will do our best to communicate those inconveniences as thoroughly as we can. However, because this is an interior renovation, the noise and other external impacts will be minimized.

What about meeting spaces and the Linda K. Paresky Center during all these moves? Will we lose those?
All spaces on campus will potentially be impacted. The Linda K. Paresky Center isn't being renovated, but we may need to use it for "swing" space. We are working closely with all campus partners to accommodate any needs related to meeting or event space.

What happens to all the books in the library?
Compact stacks will be utilized in the new library to allow for the most efficient storage of as many volumes as possible. We are also looking at off-site storage and shared collection opportunities. All of this planning is being done in conjunction with the library leadership and others. As you are probably aware, the world of libraries is changing at a very rapid pace, and we are working to keep up with that. In fact, it helps a lot to do so in this project.

What happens to the Multicultural Center and the Student Activities area in the basement of the MCB?
They will be relocated in conjunction with the other moves -- key stakeholders in Student Activities and Student Life will be key to this effort.

What happens to the Alden Trust Video Studio?
It will be relocated -- and we are looking to maximize all video, digital, and podcast space on campus. One of the benefits of a campus master planning process is that we can be much more strategic about space co-location creating "hubs" of usage.

When will we know the schedule for office moves?
Our first priority is to minimize the disruption as much as possible, but this is a very complex project where essentially every space and employee will be affected.

The first step is to determine where departments and offices will be in the final space plan based on staff, square footage and scope of renovations. Then, our master architect will create a plan to determine the sequencing of moves and renovations. Dates for each phase of the move will be published, providing as much advance notice as possible.

We will have to vacate some spaces for short periods of time to renovate them; other spaces will take longer to renovate. Some offices will potentially need to relocate more than once. Once we know the timing and order, we will let everyone know.

Will everyone have to move?
With the exception of the first floor of the Ifill College wing and the Center for Student Success, everyone will be moving to align the Colleges together and to accommodate the Lefavour renovation.

How much notice will we have before we have to move?
We hope that the moves will start in late summer. Employees who will not be on campus in the summer will be given notice before the end of the spring semester. As soon as the campus move plan is complete, we will share the information and confirm specific move dates as soon as possible (not less than a month's notice, hopefully).

What is our role in the move; how can we help?
We will ask everyone to pack their files, books and desk materials into boxes we provide, and then movers will move the boxes and furniture into the new space. In the meantime, cleaning out office spaces, file and storage rooms, and other excess furniture, paper, etc. will help the process immensely when we get started.

How will you communicate about where people are so we can find each other?
We'll have regular features about the move in Shark Bytes, but we will also create a new space on our internal website to capture all the news related to the project. Additionally, we'll make sure we send emails with more specific information that individuals will need about their office moves.


About Alternative Work Arrangements

Will some staff have the opportunity work remotely? How will that be decided?
There will be opportunities to work remotely as well as to work differently -- we're exploring options such as offsite quarters, shared offices on campus, open more efficient space, and more. It's too soon to know which groups or roles might be asked to consider alternative work arrangements, but we will work with the UST (University Strategy Team) and ULT (University Leadership Team) on those decisions when we need to make them.

If we work remotely, would Simmons give us the equipment we need?
We're looking at that now. Most employees have laptops allow for remote access, but we are looking into enhanced remote meeting options and other technology that will allow us to continue to connect effectively as a community.


About The Living and Learning Center

When would we start and end construction on a new Living and Learning Center (LLC)?
We have no timeline for the Living and Learning Center (LLC) at this time. Our plan is to include it in the 10-year Institutional Master Plan for permitting purposes. If we do proceed with the construction of the LLC, it wouldn't begin until the new Science space is completed in 2021.

In the meantime, are we going to make any investments in student spaces?
Student spaces are a major priority -- we are currently conducting a "current-conditions" assessment to create a strategic plan for campus improvements. We will have a much better sense of what we will need to do on the residence campus in the summer of 2019.

What type of upgrades will we get in a new LLC?
A new LLC will allow us to provide a much more competitive and modernized living space for students. Certainly the basics will be considerably better: technology, air conditioning, dining services, furniture, study spaces, and the like. We are in the very early stages of thinking about this building and will provide updates when we begin planning in earnest.

How many students would this new LLC accommodate?
We are planning for 1,100 beds.

Who are we leasing the Residence campus to?
We are still in confidential negotiations -- once a deal is finalized, we will be able to discuss more details. However, if we lease the Residence campus, it would be a long-term lease (up to 99 years) -- at which point Simmons will get the land back.

From an Admission perspective, is one campus more or less appealing for students?
A key benefit of the master planning exercise is that our spaces will become more attractive, efficient and accessible. One of our goals is to provide a modern, appealing, integrated campus - new residence halls, athletic facilities and dining facilities are key to our continued enrollment and retention efforts.

Why is Science the priority and not the LLC?
As the 10-year master plan we're filing with the city indicates, our priorities are both Science and a new Living & Learning Center (LLC) – a unified campus overall. The reason we are starting with the new Science Center is because it affords us the most cost-effective timing. We continue to explore the best way to build the LLC, as soon as we can.

If we don't build an LLC, what might happen with the old Science building?
We're considering all options -- one of which could be to lease the Science building and use that revenue to renovate our current residence halls.

Have we considered private sector partners to help fund our real estate initiatives, similar to the way Emmanuel has worked with Merck?
We have, and continue to, explore a wide variety of funding options.


About The Financial State of the College

How will we pay for the Science Center?
A combination of borrowing, fundraising, and prudent budgeting.

Will there be layoffs? Will merit increases be suspended again? Will 403b match also be suspended? Will there be a hiring freeze?
Our five-year financial path is clear: there will be a tough couple of years in 2020 and 2021 while we take on additional debt for phase 1 of the project and give up some of the revenues we've enjoyed from our leased spaces.

Layoffs and eliminating merit increases are all undesirable measures that we and other institutions of higher education are familiar with. They are measures we certainly hope not to undertake, but all such decisions depend upon effective budgeting.

That means -- for now -- the more we can increase our revenues and decrease our expenses, the better, and we hope to do both, even small dollars will go a long way when we add them all up.

What are the steps we can take to budget effectively?
We would encourage every department to reexamine their priorities to focus their expenses and efforts on the activities that help to increase revenues (i.e., retention, recruitment of students and staff) – or reduce expenses (i.e., are there things we can STOP doing in favor of other more critical activities). Other suggestions:

  • It will help to think hard about new positions and new hires – can we re-deploy the work? Can we wait a few months? Is it better to outsource temporarily rather than add headcount permanently?
  • Can we reconsider some of our travel plans or conferences for the next year or two?
  • Can more of us help to retain students and staff – who are so costly to lose?

Are we pursuing more international students as part of our recruitment strategy?
This has been a desire for many years -- we haven't had the budgetary resources to do this effectively, but we are currently exploring partners who might be able to make this a reality.

We talk a lot about retention of students. Are we also addressing retention of faculty -- particularly faculty of color?
Simmons recognizes the relationship between recruiting and retaining students of color and the successful recruitment and retention of faculty of color. As part of the Simmons Strategy 2022, the Office of Culture, Inclusion and Equity is working with many partners across campus on retention efforts. We see retention as part of the continuum of efforts toward advancing inclusive excellence. We are working with the Provost's Office and Human Resources to ensure we provide ongoing professional development opportunities along with social supports to underrepresented minority faculty. As we are hiring more people of color, we also are committed to increasing our efforts on retention.