Dear Babson Community:
As I reflect on my first year as president of Babson College, I am awed by the enormity and complexity of the converging forces that have shaped the last 365 days.
When I took the helm, I was intensely focused on navigating Babson through the disruption facing higher education. My first action, the launch of a strategic planning process, was designed to prepare us to thrive in a changing environment.
A year later, the change and disruption we face—not only in the higher education industry but as a community, nation, and world—is profound, unplanned, and ongoing. It has called for us to consider what it means to truly thrive in ways we have rarely seen.
Coronavirus forced us to rapidly shift the way we teach, learn, and work. The way we live. For many institutions, the transition was insurmountable. For Babson, it was an opportunity for us to do what we do best—solve problems, create value in experiences, and lead with action.
We were fortunate to meet this moment of crisis from a position of strength, having set in motion a series of strategic initiatives that fortuitously aligned with the steps necessary to survive and re-emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 experience validated and accelerated what our strategic planning process had already identified as areas of strength on which to build.
Now, with our strategic plan moving toward implementation, and the release of Babson Together, our road map for a return to campus operations, we have created a dual pathway to a future state that will look and feel different, but will ultimately enhance the Babson experience and enable us to thrive.
As I enter my second year as president, and as we navigate the next normal together, I am motivated, energized, and confident in our ability—as One Babson—to create lasting economic and social value and have a positive impact on businesses, communities, society, and the world. I shared a reflection on Babson Thought & Action, and I ask you to take a few minutes to read it. I also shared my thoughts on Facebook Live early this morning. If you weren’t able to join, you can view the recording.
Lastly, I am proud to share that in a year marked by unexpected challenges, the Babson community rallied around our students and the College like never before, giving in record-breaking numbers. We reached our highest alumni participation rate in history (32.3%), and had more total donors than ever before (12,280+) who gave a record amount ($91+ million).
Thank you for your partnership, generosity, collaboration, and most importantly, the progress we have made together.
Dear Babson Community:
Over the next two months, we will return to Babson’s campuses for the 2020-2021 academic year. We know it will look and feel different, but I am energized by our plans for fall and look forward to welcoming you back to Babson.
Today, I am writing to share details about the academic experience. We are sharing decisions as they are made and have already communicated some important changes, including a modified academic calendar. That information, and the details shared below, have been incorporated into our comprehensive return to campus plan, which will be released next week.
Learning together will be different this fall. Most classes will include a mix of face-to-face class time and online learning, with a smaller number of 100% online classes. Building on two decades of successful distance learning, and the lessons learned from our virtual campus experience this spring and summer, we have engineered our courses to capture the full potential of technology-enhanced learning while enabling safe physical distance. Students, both undergraduate and graduate, will have two primary choices for fall class formats—hybrid and fully online:
- Hybrid Classes: Hybrid classes blend face-to-face, in-person instruction with technology. These classes are designed to maximize your in-person experience in creative ways that still allow for proper distance at all times. Throughout the semester, faculty may use different delivery strategies at different times—teaching techniques such as split attendance, small groups, and blended learning. The majority of fall courses—any that are not 100% online—will be offered in the hybrid format. Hybrid classes can be attended virtually, which makes them accessible to all students, regardless of whether or not you are on campus.
- 100% Online Classes: Fully online classes provide engaging and dynamic delivery of content completely online. Classes are designed to take full advantage of technology capabilities in order to serve students who need the flexibility online instruction provides. Online courses are scheduled to begin from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET throughout the day, in an effort to provide options for students studying in different time zones. Classes will be scheduled five or six days a week.
Each of these learning formats is supported by considerable investment in technology and the virtual learning experience. This spring, when COVID-19 necessitated a move to virtual learning, 650 in-person classes quickly shifted online. The lessons learned from that experience have motivated enhancements and investments in hardware and software that will improve the academic experience and facilitate more seamless class discussion. Our faculty are participating in an intensive online teaching program and redesigning courses to be more accessible, creative, and innovative.
Things are changing, but the fundamental elements of the Babson experience remain constant. We are committed to building entrepreneurial leaders who will create scalable solutions to complex global problems, lead with empathy, and generate sustainable value across business and society. And no matter what, we will ensure that all students can make progress on their degrees, and that our campus and community remain as safe and healthy as possible.
Next week, in addition to releasing our full return to campus plan, I will mark my first anniversary as president of Babson College. It has been a tremendous and unexpected journey. I invite you to join me on Facebook Live next Wednesday, July 1 at midnight ET as I reflect on year one and look to the future.
Thank you for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate the next normal. We are moving forward together, as One Babson. I look forward to seeing you soon—online and in-person.
Dear Babson Community:
June is Pride Month, and despite our physical distance, this is a time to celebrate, learn, build community, and advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance.
I listened with rapt attention to the intense, emotional and enlightening keynote speech from Dave Childers ‘83 on the origins of Babson’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance (BGLA), now known as Pride, at our Lavender Graduation in May. During the 1981-1982 academic year, a student set up a secret mailbox, “Box A,” in the mailroom. Students interested in joining a gay student group could write to the mailbox. Initially, no one responded, but by the fall of 1982, students began writing to Box A, and the BGLA was established. Members remained mostly anonymous, but the two co-presidents made their names public, demonstrating courageous leadership and giving the BGLA a voice. The group went on to lobby President Dill to change the College’s anti-discrimination policy to include “sexual orientation.”
There have been many historic advancements in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion since the early days of the BGLA. A significant victory came just last week, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is important progress, but there is more to be done. We must continue to be active advocates and champions for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Babson is committed to this work, and our LGBTQ+ and Ally community members are leaders in our efforts. The Office of Multicultural and Identity Programs leads much of our programming and community-building throughout the year, and is a tremendous resource for students, faculty and staff. Tomorrow, our LGBTQ+ Alumni Affinity group and Office of Multicultural and Identity Programs will host a Virtual Babson Pride Party to celebrate the culmination of Pride Month. All members of our community are invited and encouraged to come together as One Babson and join in the celebration.
As June comes to a close, I am honored to announce a President’s holiday on Thursday, July 2, in addition to the scheduled holiday on Friday, July 3. The volume and complexity of the work we have undertaken—first to transition to a virtual campus, and now to prepare for our return—is extraordinary. I am grateful for your continued diligence and collaboration, and I hope that you are able to relax and enjoy this extra time with family and friends.
Dear Babson Community:
Today marks Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It arrives at a critical juncture in the pursuit of equity and inclusion in our country—a moment when our society is collectively grappling with important concerns around institutional racism and violence against the Black community.
At Babson, our work to improve equity and inclusion is ongoing. Earlier today, our community came together for a virtual Juneteenth Celebration, and engaged in a discussion about how we will take action toward a more inclusive society and community. Our friends and colleagues spoke with strength and emotion as they reflected on the meaning of Juneteenth, placed it in the context of the ongoing fight for equality, and shared their vision for a better future. Jaylen Bell ’21, president of the Black Student Union, envisioned a day when tears of pain are transformed into tears of joy, because—through the power of entrepreneurship—we have generated solutions and achieved systemic reform. And Jane Edmonds, Babson’s Vice President of Community Programming and Outreach, inspired us to “continue to struggle for civil and human rights, and commit to active ally-ship. Each and every one of us can take a step toward justice. It is our actions that reveal what’s in our hearts and minds.”
I am proud of the way our Babson community is coming together to learn, engage and lead change. As entrepreneurial leaders, we have been trained to tackle complex issues and create innovative solutions. We have a responsibility to put those skills to use in pursuit of social justice. As Aaron Walton ’83 said during today’s ceremony, this is “a movement for progress, in progress.” I would like to thank Sadie Burton-Goss, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Amanda Strong ‘87, chair of the Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and the many members of our community who came together to organize a historic Juneteenth Celebration. The collaboration among students, faculty, staff, governance and alumni to create meaningful opportunities for connection and conversation is a testament to the power of One Babson.
To continue to support this work within our community, Dean Matsuno announced last week the official launch of our Dean of Faculty, Faculty Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Development (DoF Inclusive Excellence). Chaired by Professor Tina Opie, DoF Inclusive Excellence is focused on faculty training, development, and support, and the broader learning environment faculty create at Babson. This work complements the efforts of our Diversity and Inclusion Council and the Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which focus more broadly on Babson’s overall strategy. Steering committee members include: Anjali Bal, Kankana Mukherjee, Tina Opie (Chair), Mark Potter, Jerome Taillard, Sadie Burton-Goss (ex oficio), and Ken Matsuno (ex oficio). I encourage you to read more about DoF Inclusive Excellence.
This week, 650 members of our community also gathered for a virtual Community Forum. It was energizing to connect with so many of you, and I am eager to see you in person this fall. The Forum was an opportunity to discuss organizational updates announced on Monday, share progress on our strategic planning efforts, review financial measures designed to keep us fiscally healthy in FY21, and preview preparations for our return to campus. Planning for fall is a significant and evolving effort and we will share a more complete plan with the community by July 1. In the meantime, if you were unable to join the Forum, please watch the recording and continue to submit questions to email@example.com.
Our campus and community continue to grow, evolve, and collaborate in various and important ways. One Babson, moving forward together, aspiring to be better, and leading the change we seek.
Dear Babson Community:
One year ago, we launched a strategic planning process with a clear goal: engage the Babson community to rapidly develop a strategic plan for Babson to thrive in a changing environment. At the time, today’s global health circumstances and related economic impact would have seemed unimaginable. Yet the COVID-19 experience has proven to be a real-time market test of our strategy.
Our purpose—which emerged in the strategic planning process—is to empower learners anywhere to create lasting economic and social value for themselves, their communities and the world. We do this through a market-driven, community-developed strategy, “One Babson: Entrepreneurial Leadership Impacting Ecosystems Everywhere.”
I believe COVID-19 has validated the areas of strength identified through strategic planning, and accelerated our strategic initiatives around radically re-creating our organization, owning entrepreneurial leadership, and delivering education where and when learners demand it:
- Working as One Babson—a community of faculty and staff operating as a high performance, adaptive, inclusive and collaborative organization. Delivering an entrepreneurially-inspired business learning experience for undergraduate, graduate, corporate and academic learners through our core values, offerings, experiential programs and deep expertise.
- Expanding our focus to own Entrepreneurial Leadership—a transdisciplinary and collaborative approach for learners globally to embrace accelerated change, solve problems and act on opportunities to impact businesses and communities.
- Reaching learners everywhere—where, when, and how they need it—personally, professionally, geographically and financially—through personalized and technology amplified pathways that lead to a variety of credentials and competencies.
- Scaling our impact through networks and ecosystems built and grown through a “partner first” mentality and learning agility.
- Exploring new models for learning through disciplined experimentation designed to generate rapid innovation to maximize learner success.
I have narrated a presentation that outlines the next steps in our strategic planning efforts, and highlights how we will chart a bold course forward for continued leadership at the forefront of entrepreneurship education. Agility and adaptability are key elements of our strategy. Those tenets are more important than ever as we navigate uncertainty, and we will continue to accelerate and evolve our strategy as opportunities arise.
The extraordinary engagement of the Babson community around the world has informed and strengthened the strategic planning process. Your collective input is invaluable and demonstrates the strength of our Babson network. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to Babson. I look forward to sharing the final articulation of our strategy, with more concrete plans and details, later this summer.
Dear Babson Community:
Since late last year, we have been engaged in an organizational assessment and design process to ensure Babson is positioned to successfully advance our strategy. This assessment was informed by our strategic planning task forces and a subsequent process led by outside partner, Excalibur. Most recently, more than 200 faculty and staff members shared important inputs about evolving Babson organizationally.
Together with a cross-functional advisory group, I am synthesizing these inputs to determine ways to evolve our organization and advance our strategy with the following priorities: 1) optimizing the institution to promote learner success; 2) taking a “One Babson” approach to becoming a high performance, collaborative, inclusive and agile organization, and; 3) becoming flatter, nimbler, and more cost-effective to positively impact the business model.
In addition to task force recommendations and input provided by Excalibur, our design decisions are guided and informed by learnings from our response to COVID-19, including:
- The importance of academic and business continuity to optimize learner success, especially as we contend with unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic;
- Reducing hierarchy to empower and bring decision-making authority closer to the ground level, where the actions are taken;
- Increasing agility to enable organizational units to quickly act on opportunities and quickly pivot as needed;
- Eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies; and
- Reducing cost to be economically responsible for resource allocations.
As we work to conclude our efforts and align our organization for optimal success and efficiency, I want to share important transitions taking place over the weeks and months ahead.
We have previously announced that Dean Rollag and Dean Lapp will transition to new roles at and beyond Babson. I want to convey my gratitude to both Keith and Ian for their leadership, their many contributions to our Graduate and Undergraduate schools, and their steadfast commitment to the Babson community. Please join me in wishing them great success in their next endeavors—Keith as he returns to teaching as Professor of Management, and Ian as the next Provost of Wentworth Institute of Technology.
I also want to share that Mark Rice will be stepping out of the Provost role effective July 1. Mark has decided to return to teaching as part of the Entrepreneurship Division in the fall. I will continue to rely on Mark as a Special Advisor and as the leader of our academic continuity planning effort for the fall. Mark has been a trusted partner, advisor and friend to Babson—and to me, personally—for many years. His return to Babson was the ultimate opportunity to bring together his passion for the classroom with his commitment to academic innovation.
Under Mark’s leadership, we successfully completed curriculum transitions in both the Undergraduate and Graduate schools, in addition to setting the path for reemergence of Executive and Professional education. Mark was instrumental in leading the accreditation review efforts, resulting in a renewal of the College’s AACSB accreditation status. Mark’s steady and strategic guidance has led to many important changes in our academic enterprise, and I know we have benefitted from his leadership as Provost. We will share a formal farewell to Mark later this month. Please join me in thanking Mark for his leadership and friendship.
These transitions provide an important opportunity to further assess our academic leadership structure. That important work is underway and will conclude this month as we complete the organizational design process. We look forward to sharing a comprehensive update on the organizational structure by the end of June.
This is an exciting, albeit increasingly complex, moment for us as a community. I want to thank everyone who has participated in the discussions and analysis. The commitment and continued engagement in the planning efforts will help us thrive going forward.
Dear Babson Community:
Earlier this week, I was joined by College leaders in expressing solidarity and concern for everyone impacted by the death of George Floyd and countless others. Our community, nation and world are grappling with important and disturbing concerns about institutional racism, violence against the Black community, and injustice in our society. Like many of you, I am sad and frustrated—feelings that are compounded by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
As entrepreneurial leaders, we are driven to solve problems, to lead with empathy, and to create solutions to complex systemic challenges. Our mission is to be the leaders of the change we seek. Our work to improve equity and inclusion at Babson is ongoing—there is more to be done. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to facilitate critical discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion. For now, this dialogue will happen virtually. This fall, when we return to campus, those conversations will take place face-to-face. I fully recognize that action must result from these discussions. We will thoughtfully and purposefully advance initiatives that support our community.
We continue to plan and prepare for the Fall semester and our anticipated return, guided by two principles: the health and wellbeing of our community and maintaining academic continuity for our students. A comprehensive plan for our return will be shared by July 1, though we do expect that plan to evolve over the summer, taking into consideration progress made on the Reopening Massachusetts plan and the continued guidance and recommendations from the CDC and other public health authorities. In the meantime, I want to share several key decisions that are central to our planning efforts:
Undergraduate Academic Calendar:
An important strategy for maintaining our community’s health is minimizing interactions outside of our campus community throughout the semester. Risk increases for everyone when large numbers of students leave our contained campus environment, return and interact with one another, and again return to their home communities. Therefore, we are modifying the undergraduate academic calendar in a way that will limit our collective exposure while providing a full semester of instruction. Changes include:
- Early start: classes will begin on Monday, August 24. We will communicate new information about move-in dates as details are solidified.
- Early end: classes will end on Thursday, November 19, prior to Thanksgiving break.
- Students will not return to campus between Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester.
- Final exams will take place virtually between Monday, November 30 and Saturday, December 5.
- Classes will be held on Labor Day (September 7) and Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day (October 12).
We continue to plan for a variety of circumstances and teaching modalities this fall. In addition to on-campus classes, all courses will also be delivered virtually. This WebFlex model will allow students the flexibility to move between face-to-face and online learning as needed throughout the semester. Additionally, class times may change slightly to allow more time between classes and less congestion during transitions. Students will begin to receive follow up communications from Student Life with additional information in the weeks ahead.
We made the difficult decision to suspend fall 2020 education abroad programs. We know that this is deeply disappointing for many of our students, but safety is our top priority. We have reached out directly to students impacted by this change, and encourage anyone with questions about study abroad, or re-registering for fall classes, to contact the Glavin Office or your Class Dean.
Graduate Academic Calendar and Registration:
All graduate classes will start on Monday, August 31 as scheduled. The Graduate School’s course registration will open the second week of July—an email regarding registration will be going out early next week. We continue to plan for a variety of delivery methods, and course formats may shift based on evolving public health requirements, with the expectation that all courses will be delivered face-to-face.
Ongoing Planning and Opportunities to Connect:
We are committed to sharing important decisions as they are made. We will share a full return to campus plan by July 1, but in the meantime, we invite you to join us at upcoming Community Forums where we will preview the fall semester, and give an update on decisions that have been made and what is still to come.
- Undergraduate Students and Families: Thursday, June 11 at 11 a.m. ET
- Faculty and Staff: Wednesday, June 17 at 9:45 a.m. ET
- New Undergraduate Students and Families: Thursday, June 18 at 11 a.m ET
- Graduate Students: To be scheduled for mid-July
We continue to thoughtfully and diligently prepare for our return to campus, and I am energized both by our developing plan and by the prospect of being together again as a community. We have many details to plan and prepare, and our teams are working to ensure progress continues as information evolves over the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to connecting with you at our upcoming Forums. Thank you for your continued flexibility and support.
Dear Babson Community:
Last week, the world witnessed an appalling act of violence in Minneapolis. The death of George Floyd represents the latest in a long, horrific, unacceptable pattern of unequal treatment and violence against the black community. We are reminded yet again of the toll that hatred and systemic racism can exact on our communities, nation and world—and the disproportionate impact on black communities and lives. Like many of you, we are angry, frustrated and heartbroken.
This incident highlights important and disturbing concerns about institutional racism and violence in our society. As entrepreneurial leaders, we are driven to solve problems, to lead with empathy, and to create solutions to complex systemic challenges. It is our responsibility to discuss and explore these issues, to listen and learn, to confront our own biases, and to speak out and lead change.
Babson is continually working to improve equity and inclusion. We are enriched by a diversity of races, cultures, backgrounds and perspectives, and united by a shared vision to create positive change in the world. This incident is a stark reminder that we must do more. As individuals and as a community, we must hold ourselves accountable to be actively anti-racist.
Pursuing equity and inclusive excellence at Babson continues to be an ongoing and important part of our collective mission. Babson’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, under the leadership of Sadie Burton-Goss, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, leads much of this important work on campus and is a tremendous resource for our community. The Council plans to communicate with our community members the resources and support services we continue to offer to be an ally to colleagues, classmates and society.
We must continuously ask ourselves: What will I do, in my own way, to become more aware of my own biases and the impact of that behavior? Every day, we should model and show respect, be accountable for our actions, and engage each other with compassion. Peaceful protests lead to new ways forward. Our mission is to be the leaders of the change we seek.
We are one community, supporting each other through an unimaginable time. One Babson. Thank you for your leadership, strength and resilience.
Steve Spinelli, President
Donna Bonaparte, Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
Sadie Burton-Goss, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Andrea Lindner, Student Government Association President
James Pollard, Chief of Police and Director, Public Safety Department
Mark Rice, Provost
Lawrence Ward, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Rachel Zelcer, Graduate Student Council President
The 2019–2020 academic year elicits vast and varied emotions. Gratitude for the flexibility and resilience of our community. Concern for our continued wellbeing. Grief for a semester upended by crisis. Motivation to bring Babson back stronger and more impactful than ever. And, most immediately, anticipation about our return to campus. It can feel overwhelming, but I continue to be energized and inspired by your resiliency and support for each other.
I am writing to share our preparations for a safe and measured return to our campuses. Our intent is to welcome the majority of faculty, staff and students back to campus and to begin on-campus classes this fall. We continue to plan for scenarios that may require flexibility to move between online and face-to-face options as the situation unfolds. The planning related to a return to campus operations continues to be grounded in two principles: the safety and health of our community and continuity of the academic experience for all students.
Let me share an update on immediate next steps and ongoing planning:
- Expert Guidance and Partnership: Reopening requires a new way of life for students, staff, faculty and visitors. We have examined and are enhancing our safety protocols and operations. We are working with external experts, Environmental Health & Engineering (EHE), a leading industrial hygiene firm specializing in higher education, to help guide our decisions. EHE is providing solutions based on the most up to date public health, scientific, medical and engineering guidance. Additionally, we will continue to access expertise through our industry associations and state offices.
- Safety Guidelines and Health Monitoring Protocols: Several campus safety and health protocols are in development to ensure compliance with local reopening guidelines:
- Masks: Masks have been secured for all members of our community, and a policy will be issued for face covering as we get closer to the start of Fall semester. We will be fervently educating and reminding our community about proper mask wearing and hand washing.
- De-densification Planning: Working with our partners at EHE, we are examining all options for de-densification of buildings, including changes in classroom and residence hall capacity and altering dining areas and common spaces. This intense planning will continue for several weeks and be communicated well in advance of the semester start.
- Advanced Cleaning Protocols: Our Facilities team has deployed advanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, including use of technology that covers larger spaces with more precise targeting of disinfectant.
- Practicing Physical Distance: Physical distance has been shown to limit virus spread. We are working to determine physical distance policies in and outside the classroom, public areas and residence halls.
- Continuation of Remote Work Environment: We will continue business operations remotely, preserving resources necessary to accommodate the return to campus this fall. Students may continue to connect with staff and faculty remotely as needed throughout the summer.
- Other Strategies to Keep our Community Safe: In collaboration with other area colleges and universities and leading health experts, we are actively investigating a variety of additional tools and resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community as safe as possible.
On Thursday, June 11 at 11 a.m. ET, we will host a virtual Community Forum for students to discuss our ongoing planning efforts and timeline for critical decision-making. I invite you to join us for that session and to share questions in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details will be shared next week.
I continue to be proud of our community’s exceptional management and response to this ongoing situation. I know the toll it has taken on so many, and I wish I could take away the fear, frustration and exhaustion with simple answers. While we may be growing weary of the constraints placed on our lives, there are positive signs of progress and we are beginning to understand what our new normal will entail. We have much work ahead. In order for us to succeed we must do the hard work together, as one community.