Around the Globe
Explore. Experiment. Grow. That’s the Babson model, says Betsy Newman ’97, vice president of student affairs and program strategy. To become entrepreneurial leaders, students need to go through this developmental process—over and over.
Most first-years, however, want to retain their identity, find groups they’re comfortable with, and hunker down, notes Newman, who is writing a doctoral thesis for her EdD on how students become entrepreneurial leaders and how a campus environment can influence that progression. “It’s a time of life when they want nothing more than to be in their comfort zone,” she says.
To counter those instincts, Babson is building a new residence hall for firstyear students that’s designed specifically to encourage interactions. The building will complete the Park Manor quad, where all first-year students will live. The lawn near Tomasso will become an outdoor amphitheater, which takes advantage of the land’s natural slope, and the new residence will house about 200 students. None of the rooms will be singles, and students will share bathrooms. Of the rooms, Newman says, “They will be comfortable, but not so comfortable that students never want to leave. They’ll have to explore outside of their normal groups to discover new opportunities.”
Annexed to the residence will be a large, open space for all first-years to work on their businesses for FME (Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship) and other collaborations. The open space will be designed so people passing by can see into it, and to go to their rooms, residents will have to walk through the space. Students gain confidence when they see others like them doing entrepreneurial activities, says Newman. They also realize that everyone is experiencing the same challenges, good and bad. “It’s a simple concept,” she says, “but really important. They’re always going to be walking by, and they’ll be invigorated and empowered by the energy of the environment and culture that will be created in that space.”
Many students create their cultural habits in the first semester, says Newman. “If they can get out and experiment early on in their time here,” she says, “that will build their confidence, resilience, and courage to try bigger and better things sophomore, junior, and senior years. It’s building a foundation for them.”
President Len Schlesinger wants the building to tell the story of Babson’s living and learning environment. “To actually have a physical space that moves beyond the natural beauty of the campus into truly being a functional asset for everything we’re trying to do as a community—now that’s exciting,” he says.