For those who regularly attend the Society of College & University Planning (SCUP) events, March 8-10 was likely the last time you gathered in a large group. The 2020 North Atlantic Regional SCUP Conference was held on those days in New Haven, Conn., hosted by Yale University. This was the cusp of COVID-19 changing our lives. The following week, the Mid-Atlantic Regional SCUP Conference pivoted to a virtual platform. Our world spun and has yet to right itself. Things that were “impossible,” suddenly became not only “possible,” but required.
In the normal rhythm of SCUP between the Regional Conference in March and the National Conference in July, Boston would host a few events, and New York City would often host a half day symposia to serve the members within New York state. These events have great followings because of consistent quality programming with relevant, interesting and useful content. They also provide great networking opportunities and tours of interesting new projects. The tours and in-person networking are not possible in our current world, but with so much changing so fast, there is an increased thirst for conversation and collaboration amongst the SCUP community of institutional and professional members.
SCUP’s tag line is “Where planning comes together” – if ever there was a time for planning, this is it! Members of the SCUP North Atlantic Council teamed with Boston Society of Architect’s BSA/SCUP College & University Roundtable Committee, and together supported by SCUP National, rolled out a series of virtual events entitled “Less Talk, More Action: Tactical Topics to Return to Campus.” Our members needed quality content and we proudly delivered exceptional speakers, thought leaders and collaborators intent on bringing their problem-solving chops to the conversation.
Since early June, half a dozen of these events have covered topics from the impact of technology, healthy buildings, strategic planning, campus collaborations and return plans, to the impact on construction projects. Institutions and companies involved include Harvard, Tufts, Boston University, Northeastern, Mass Maritime Academy, Wellesley College, UMASS Lowell, RISDI, the Boston Globe, Vantage Technology, Gordian (Sightlines), Perkins & Will, Maguire Associates and Turner Construction. A benefit of the new reality is that logistics and geography disappear, and much of this content is accessible to all. All of this programming and much more can be found on the SCUP website!
Members have applauded the more frequent programming, particularly on these timely topics. The conversation on impacts to higher education will continue as we navigate the complexities of this pandemic on our beloved institutions. This is a significant opportunity to expand the relevance of SCUP and provide even more value to our members and community. SCUP’s focus on integrated planning has always been a differentiator and today the idea of bringing together academic, fiscal, strategic, technology, space and campus planning is even more important. More virtual events are planned for the fall. For more information check out and resources at www.SCUP.org or look for BSA/SCUP Roundtable on the Boston Society of Architect’s website, www.architects.org.
Heather Taylor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is a campus planner and architect at Phillips Exeter Academy, and the SCUP North Atlantic regional chair.