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Jennison Renovation Enhances Quality of Academic and Student Life
If you ask Bentley students about their first impressions of trying to find their classes in Jennison hall freshman year, most would provide the following response: dim and confusing. Built in 1968 as one of the primary classroom buildings for the university, Jennison had a long reputation for its windy corridors that led to science labs, classrooms and faculty offices. Today, the interior of Jennison has been transformed and is almost unrecognizable.
Knowing the long-recognized need to update the science labs on the ground floor, the university conducted a campus-wide survey by building planning experts Dumont Janks. The results revealed that all four floors of the nearly 50-year-old building were in need of a thorough, thoughtful modernizing to support Bentley’s educational mission. The university partnered with Architectural Resources Cambridge (ARC) to develop and execute a plan to renovate the entire interior of Jennison beginning in May 2016.
After nearly two years of planning and eight months of construction, Bentley opened the doors to the new space just as students arrived on campus for the spring 2017 semester. The campus will celebrate the re-opening of Jennison Hall with an open house and reception on Thursday, February 23.
State-of-the-art teaching environment
The new renovation transformed the dark and tired classroom building into a dynamic new learning environment with state-of-the-art technology and physical layouts that meet the teaching and learning requirements of a leading 21st century business university. The redesigned corridors feature new ceilings, energy efficient lighting and extensive interior windows to provide transparency and increased daylight.
“Bentley’s mission has remained at the center of this project throughout inception and construction as we strive to create the best most enriching learning environment for our current and future students,” says Interim Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Dan Everett. “The new renovations truly bring our commitment to integrating business and the arts and sciences to life.”
The renovations focused on refurbishing the traditional classroom spaces as well as providing the following new areas for student and faculty use:
- Three new, high-tech, multi-disciplinary science instructional labs for chemistry, physics, biology, and Earth and environmental sciences, providing a more collaborative and flexible teaching environment
- A new “dry” laboratory, modeled after the MBA Studio in Adamian and called a "collaboratory,'' provides a team-based flexible learning environment to supplement the more traditional “wet” instructional labs
- Dedicated laboratory for research and instrumentation for students and faculty to pursue science investigations that will complement classroom lab work
- Department of Natural and Applied Sciences administrative suite and faculty offices
- Collaborative space for the Center for Integration of Science and Industry faculty, research fellows, student researchers, and Executives in Residence.
- Two existing tiered interactive classrooms are enlarged and renovated for better ergonomics
- Two additional flexible team-based classroom collaboratories
Third and Fourth Floors
- A similar flexible classroom collaboratory
- Two reconfigured classrooms and a new conference room.
Rick Oches, chair and professor of Bentley’s Natural and Applied department, shares that the renovations have completely changed the way that faculty are able to teach their lab courses. Previously, professors had to conduct the lecture portion of their class in a traditional classroom and then move down to one of the ground-level labs in Jennison to complete the hands-on work. The new labs provide more functional space for contemporary pedagogy and allow professors to offer much more interactive lab courses, integrating lecture and lab work.
“The renovations to Jennison will help us to more effectively prepare our students for today’s contemporary, science and technology-focused job market,” says Oches. “Many Bentley graduates are going on to work for biotech, biopharmaceutical, environmental technology, and clean energy companies, and it serves them well to have experience communicating and experimenting with scientific problem-solving, data, and instrumentation, even if they are not going to be the ones at their company doing the actual product development or drug discovery.”
Bentley currently offers two B.A. degrees focused in the sciences: Health Studies and Sustainability Science, as well as Liberal Studies Major concentrations in Health and Industry and Earth, Environment & Global Sustainability.
New home for academic services
In the initial planning discussions, Bentley’s academic leadership team also saw an opportunity to carve out new space for Academic Advising (both undergraduate and graduate) and Disability Services to join under the same roof. While all three services worked closely together to support students, they were located in three separate areas of campus. Through the Jennison renovation, ARC added approximately 2,400 square feet to the building by filling in the two-story portico facing Smith and the Library. The result yielded a multi-level office space dedicated to supporting and planning students’ academic experience at Bentley.
“The new office space has created great synergy for our students,” shares Cathy Carlson, associate dean of Academic Services. “We have many students who come into undergraduate advising who are interested in learning more about their options in the graduate school and instead of making them walk across campus to La Cava, we can now make an appointment for them down the hall.”
Academic Services works closely with students to map out their individualized education plans and provide support. In the last academic year, the academic services staff completed more than 7,000 appointments with both undergraduate and graduate students. Carlson notes that servicing this volume of students will be more seamless in the new space that now contains a large waiting area and communal meeting spaces.
Creating useable space
One of the most obvious changes in Jennison is the new addition of useable space for students to occupy in between classes.
“Prior to the renovation, Jennison was not very inviting to our students,” shares Oches. “Throughout the planning process we emphasized that we needed to design spaces for students to have an option to stick around in between classes.”
The completed renovation did just that. Each floor now contains carved out lounge areas and tables for students to study, or just hang out. The lower level of Jennison also contains study rooms that can be signed out by students that are similar to what they use in the library and student center.
“I definitely plan on taking advantage of the new lounge areas,” says Christopher Stabile ’18. “Last year my friends and I would leave Jennison after our classes wrapped up, but it’s nice to know we have additional study space on upper campus.”
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.