My Take on the 2015 SCUP Conference
As Tocci continues to grow into the higher education markets, I felt it would be hugely beneficial to attend the regional last week. This was a full, two day conference held at the Omni Hotel in Providence.
Being that it was held in Providence, there was a large presence of Rhode Island colleges and universities. That being said, schools such as Northeastern University, Lesley University, Mass Art, Boston University, and MIT were also present.
The entire conference theme was “Plans within Plans: Campus in Context.” This recognized the relationships these schools have with the larger communities where their campuses are located. Whether it is local planning and zoning, a larger higher education system, neighbors, or expectations for campus-driven economic development, the planning going on around their campuses affects their own plans.
I attended many insightful sessions – however there were two that I found particularly interesting. One of these sessions was titled “City as Campus: Two Fenway Institutions, One Vibrant Neighborhood.” Speakers included BK Boley from ADD Inc. and the VP’s of Planning for Northeastern and Mass Art. They discussed how these two prominent institutions along Boston’s avenue of the arts plan, permit, and build in one of the city’s most exciting and energized neighborhoods. I also know BK Boley personally, so it is always interesting to hear him speak.
The second of these sessions that I found particularly enjoyable was “Gateway Park: A Catalyst for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).” Speakers included Michael O’Brien from Winn Companies and Jeff Solomon from WPI. The Gateway Park project was such a cool story and the original vision of revitalizing a blighted city area adjacent to a university campus into a biotech park has now come to light. This project has provided needed space for several bio-related majors and additional parking facilities. It has completely transformed the “look” and “feel” of the campus.
Overall, I had a great time attending this year’s conference. I learned a lot and networked with a lot of great people that I am sure I will run into again as Tocci continues to grow into the higher education market.