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Frequently Asked Questions
We welcome your questions and comments. Please contact Thomas Pistorino, Vice President, Finance & Business at 781-768-7075 or email him at email@example.com.
We’re doing this as an extension and enhancement of our educational mission. We want to use our asset – the vacant land – in a way that meets the college’s educational, programmatic and financial needs. This development of our campus especially helps meet the educational needs of our students in our significant nursing, management, education and social work programs and offers residents the kinds of educational opportunities that will help them lead meaningful lives, staying engaged with the world around them.
Over 60 years ago, Regis College became one of the first colleges to educate non-traditional-age students as well as those of traditional post secondary school age. Regis is now an intergenerational campus with pre-school programs, undergraduate and graduate programs, and a whole host of certificate granting and/or audit programs/plans. We also have Lifelong Learning at Regis College (LLARC), an institute to provide educational opportunities specifically designed for the mature adults in our community.
We are planning an expansion of our existing educational facilities that will incorporate a senior educational and residential community within the overall college campus setting. Here residents will enjoy a high quality of life enhanced by expanding choices as they age. These will include, but not be limited to, educational and other training opportunities directed at the mind and body of our students, all of our students. The emphasis for senior residents is to live a full life in one’s own home, supported by a variety of on-site services and enhanced by a wide range of educational, intellectual, social, physical and spiritual activities. The new facilities will promote intergenerational education and learning and wellness, and all programming will be integrated with the West campus of Regis College. As part of the expansion, we will build more classrooms for our undergraduate and graduate nursing program and other facilities for students on the East Campus site, interactive with the senior residential community situated there.
Regis College sits in a prime location on 130 acres in Weston. A vibrant college community -- one serving the needs of its entire student population – is essential to maintaining the character of Weston. Forward-thinking development of Regis East Campus land, within the context of that community, will almost naturally reach out to serve the needs of other Weston residents, just as the College has done historically.
For several years a lifelong learning institute at Regis College (LLARC) has provided education specifically designed for mature adults in the community, and this will continue to be available for Weston residents in addition to our students. We are also looking at how to create opportunities for recreational use, such as hiking trails and playing fields. Weston and area residents already enjoy our athletic facilities, Spellman Stamp Museum, art exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances. They also audit classes. We will build upon those opportunities. Many Weston residents tell us they want to shed the responsibility of their homes, but they don’t want to leave the community. Regis East will enable them to stay in their hometown and stay active physically, socially, and intellectually.
Regis East will serve a diverse educational community dedicated to lifelong learning and be fully integrated with Regis’ existing college community. Think of it as another building block to Regis’ longstanding commitment to intergenerational learning. The Regis East “Senior Scholars” program is a residential education program in an aging-in-place environment. Regis East will attract people in the later decades of their lives who want to continue to develop to their fullest potential and choose Regis East so they can live in an educational community enriched by being with others who share their values. The Regis East educational program will be managed and administered by professional educators – academic advisors, wellness coordinators and a Dean of the East Campus.
Senior Scholars will have individual learning plans and be required to take a minimum of two courses per semester. They will be able to take courses for credit, audit courses, or take them online, in coordination with their academic advisors. They may also participate in LLARC (Lifelong Learning at Regis College) courses. The education advisors will help Senior Scholars develop their education plan and monitor their participation and progress over time. These plans, subject to the approval of the Dean of Regis East, will be comparable to the individual educational plans developed for all Regis students. The Senior Scholars’ Wellness and Education Curriculum Plans will be incorporated into their residency agreements.
The Regis East campus will create educational opportunities in most fields of study for Regis West students. They may be tutored or mentored by Senior Scholars, and they will also have opportunities to tutor or mentor Senior Scholars. Picture a tech-savvy undergraduate helping a Senior Scholar set up a web site or page on Facebook, or an international student as a language partner to a Senior Scholar seeking to learn a new language. All students, from the Children’s Center through the doctoral program, will benefit from active engagement with well elders while dispelling myths related to aging. Students in our School for Nursing and Health Professions will benefit from expanded geriatrics and gerontology curriculum. Undergraduate and graduate students under Regis faculty supervision will participate in providing home care services and more. Students in social work, health and fitness studies, and other social science disciplines will benefit from interdisciplinary clinical internships on the East Campus.
The concept itself is no longer novel. Senior Scholar programs can be found at over 400 campuses across the United States, many of which include housing for their Senior Scholars. What distinguishes Regis East from other senior residential communities associated with colleges is the advanced degree to which Regis plans to fully integrate its East and West campuses and create a truly intergenerational learning and living community – from childhood education at the day care facility, to undergraduate, graduate and post-graduates classes for all members of the Regis College community.
Studies consistently demonstrate that seniors’ intellectual curiosity and their capacity to learn do not automatically diminish with age. A recent Harris Poll found that 81 percent of people aged 55 to 64 want to continue to learn after they retire. Consequently, a steadily aging population that tends to stay healthy longer has increased demand for lifelong learning arrangements, based on the evidence that interest in education and continued cognitive and physical exercise are crucial to developing an individual’s full potential.
What’s more, in an aging country, Massachusetts is one of the states with a disproportionately large older population. And Weston, with some 19 percent of its residents 62 or older, has a higher percentage of elderly than both the state and the nation. Regis East provides an important opportunity for Senior Scholars from Weston and surrounding communities who desire to leave their home but remain engaged and active in the community which they love.
How do the requirements of the Regis East educational program reflect contemporary trends in adult education?
We understand today that lifelong learning contributes to human happiness, health, social and physical well-being. A Senior Scholars Program like Regis East, in an aging-in-place environment, places a distinctive emphasis on the learning environment itself and on living in it. Senior Scholars’ own apartments will serve a predominant educational purpose as they will often be the scene of small discussion groups, informal coaching sessions, and lively course-oriented conversations. Senior Scholars can learn in their homes through on-line programs, self-directed courses, or even being tutored. The very bricks and mortar of the facility is educational. We know that education, whether undergraduate, graduate or other setting, doesn’t take place only in a traditional classroom.
How do you measure academic progress given the flexibility of proposed individualized education plans, especially if there are not minimum academic requirements for admission, awarding of certificates or degrees, giving of grades for course work?
Senior scholars will be eligible to obtain certificates, bachelors, master or post-graduate degrees, but that is not the point of the Regis East educational experience. Educators have learned over time that education is a process. A measurement system is not education. How many courses you take is not education. In active learning, the process is part of the fabric of daily life. Like Regis students in other schools of the College, Senior Scholars become members of the Regis College learning community under the supervision of an Academic Dean. They share in the College’s mission to empower women and men to challenge themselves academically, to lead by example, and to serve to the best of their abilities.
Consistent with the vision of the College, Senior Scholars choose to be residents at Regis East because they desire to be part of a small, diverse community actively engaged in empowering all who learn, teach and work within this intergenerational community to realize their fullest potential. Regis East offers the total integration of education into their way of life. The residential component represents a degree of immersion that makes participation in courses qualitatively different from commuting to take a course or two. The Senior Scholar does not say, “I learn there, but I live here.” The Regis East resident says, “I am a living and learning human person, and, with others at Regis East I continuously find ways to express this reality.”
Defining education as something that only occurs in a traditional classroom is an outdated and discredited concept. Just think of how much distance learning takes place in people’s residences at their computers. Think of book clubs in living rooms, academic debates around a cup of coffee, and seminars held outside on lawns. Regis East is a total learning environment, just as the west side of campus is totally dedicated to education. The East Campus will include seven children’s classrooms, five lifelong learning classrooms, a 100-seat auditorium, computer lab, at least one clinical teaching room for 100 students. There will be 24 offices for faculty and administration, libraries, health and fitness facilities, an art studio and dining facilities. But the educational purpose will inform the entire east part of the campus – the bricks and mortar, dining facilities, common spaces, housing, landscaped areas and work areas – all will have the same educational function as buildings, places and activities on the west side of campus. The entire campus – east and west – is dedicated to Regis’ core mission – education.
Doesn’t the success of the LLARC Program show that seniors could commute and still learn without being residents?
LLARC is one form of learning and a valuable and important one. Those who seek to become Regis East residents choose a higher level of engagement. They want to live their lives immersed in the educational experience. Learning in community has gone on since before Socrates.
What does Regis East hope to achieve with its requirement of two courses per semester for residents?
Regis East is for seniors who view continuing educational opportunities as integral to their lives. They come with a different mindset from those who would treat educational offerings as optional amenities. The course minimum is a symbol of commitment, a threshold marker, not a ceiling. The educational experience is laced through the daily lives of Regis East Senior Scholars. The mentoring, the tutoring, the participation in speaker programs and cultural programs, the informal interaction among residents on subjects of concern to the academic courses -- all amplify the two-course-per-semester requirement. The course work is a building block upon which broader experiential learning takes place. As with many graduate programs, a two course a semester minimum is not unusual.
How will Regis East provide meaningful clinical experiences for Regis nursing students, especially if there are no medical facilities at Regis East?
Given the rapidly growing geriatric population, it is critical that students in the health professions as well as other disciplines have curriculum and field experiences related to the knowledge and care of older adults. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has called for the development of geriatric curricula at all levels from undergraduate through doctoral education. The state Department of Higher Education has identified competencies in the care of older adults that all nurses must have. Regis has clinical placements in 11 major hospitals, but there are limited clinical placements in Massachusetts in which students can learn what they need to know about wellness as people age. Undergraduate and graduate students under the supervision of Regis faculty will participate in providing home care services, wellness and health assessments, primary care, counseling, fitness assessments. And those students will gain experience in the implementation and management of an aging-in-place environment. Regis’ Senior Scholars will benefit from the program and their experiences with other Regis undergraduate and graduate students.
Any income received by the College from Regis East would be used exclusively to further Regis’ educational mission. Most colleges and universities are seeking ways to diversify their revenue streams and be less dependent on tuition. In the case of Regis East, the financial benefits are by themselves relatively modest. Regis has always considered this project to be an expansion of its mission first and foremost, then as a way also to more fully utilize an existing asset and finally become less tuition dependent over the long term. For us, this is simply a use of our land for an educational purpose.
Again, the property’s main feature is a broad hilltop with land that slopes down about 80 feet. The community is designed to work with the natural site features, preserving vegetation and setbacks. A curved ridge building will house common activities (such as dining, meeting rooms, library, classrooms, faculty offices, and other fully functional rooms consistent with a college setting) and extend along the north of the hilltop, forming the edge of a landscaped, park-like open space. This ridge, which has parking under it, provides the main connecting element of the community and gives access to four Senior Scholar residential buildings that radiate from it and step down the hillside. In addition, there are four other dwellings that line the south edge of the hilltop that reflect the scale of some private homes along Wellesley Street. Over 75 percent of the site will remain as open space. The natural grade of the site is utilized to step the main building into the hillside and use the natural terrain to minimize the aesthetic impact to Wellesley Street.
Regis East has been designed to be state of the art in design and technology. In keeping with the topography, the housing units have been consolidated on the site in order to best serve the needs of the residents. The units have been clustered to respond to best practices in gerontology management, which maintains that elderly, especially living alone in their units, report feeling better, emotionally and physically, and function best when they are in close proximity to their neighbors and the dining, meeting, study and recreational areas. Based upon our experts’ recommendations, in Regis East no residence is more than 300 feet from the common areas. And, instead of walking long distances, residents can take elevators and travel vertically instead of horizontally.
Regis has had many conversations with town officials concerning this project. The College has its own health and safety professionals trained to respond to a variety of emergency situations without unduly burdening local services. We expect to continue and improve this tradition and practice through a continued and open dialogue with the town government. Further, studies have shown that this type of expansion of the Regis campus will not necessarily burden town services or increase taxpayer outlay. By way of example, and not meant to be exhaustive, this type of educational program will not burden Weston’s school system which is the largest tax burden the citizens of Weston must face.
We are waiting for the resolution of the matter before the Land court. On campus, plans are underway for the College’s “East Campus” working group to share with the College community a status report on the Regis East proposal.
Vice President, Finance & Business