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Innovation and real-world business practice will meet in the new Smith Academic Technology Center at Bentley College

October 22, 1998


Groundbreaking ceremony held October 23, 1998

WALTHAM, MASS.- Bentley College held a brief, traditional groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, October 23 for a building that will be anything but traditional. Opening in the fall of 2000, the Norman S. and Lida M. Smith Academic Technology Center will combine leading-edge information technology with space to teach, learn and think creatively. The four-story Smith Center, designed by Boston architects Goody, Clancy & Associates, will total 73,000 square feet and create a bridge linking the upper and lower campuses. From the lower entrance, across the road from The Trees residence halls, the building will rise up a hill to the academic quad where, between Jennison and Lindsay halls, a plaza entrance will face the steepled Solomon R. Baker Library.

The groundbreaking event was blessed with crisp, clear autumn weather. Scooping up the first shovels of soil were Bentley College Chairman of the Board John T. Collins, Class of 1969; President Joseph G. Morone; Miriam Smith and Trustee Robert F. Smith, Class of 1953. The Smiths' landmark gift of $5 million, the largest in Bentley history, is primarily earmarked for the new facility which will be named in honor of Robert Smith's parents.

The Smith Center will provide Bentley students with the technology and the environment for innovative thinking and will link classroom teaching to real-world business practice. The $20 million facility will house the David and Elizabeth Hughey Center for Financial Services, including an expanded Trading Room, nearly triple the current size. It will also contain 20 high-tech classrooms, seminar rooms, and the new home of the Computer Information Systems (CIS) department. The CIS department will also contain the Center for Technology and Commerce, a research institute focusing on the intersection of business and information technology. Trustee Professor Jay Cooprider is founding director.

All classrooms will be wired to handle the latest technology as it comes on the market. Each will offer access to the college network and the Internet via video projection, broadband TV, and in-room computer or laptop. Custom designed podiums with touch-screen capability will enable faculty members to control the lights, web page projection or stop-action while using a CD-ROM, for instance. Prototypes of these high-tech podiums are now in use in Jennison Hall.

Two classrooms will be fully equipped for distance learning with complete videoconferencing facilities. In 14 small group study rooms, project teams can meet and classes can gather in small groups for planning and discussion. Here, too, will be housed several laboratories which may include:

  • A Computer Information Systems lab designed with computers around the perimeter of the room will give the instructor flexibility to work with students one-on-one, or to turn and face the center for group discussion.
  • A Communication Arts Center lab where Business Communication faculty will teach the latest in electronic publishing and graphic design, with the technological tools for learning that support both the practice and the principles of oral and visual communication.
  • The Accounting Information Systems lab, currently housed in LaCava Center, where students hone their skills with state-of-the-art software that is revolutionizing the accounting industry.

Smith Center is designed for those who will use the building, day and night. An internal "main street" flows from one level to the next, and a three-story glass wall will permit natural light and open to views of Falcone Apartments.

Along this corridor, comfortable seating will encourage relaxation, and computer ports will make it easy to plug-in and connect with the world -- to check e-mail, gather data from the Internet, or work on group projects. Just outside, at the lower entrance, there will be a tree-lined, outdoor seating area for relaxation and group study.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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