Spring Forward on the EF Campus

As the season changes, days lengthen and the trees leaf out, this is an exciting time of year on campus.  Color and life “blossom,” the Spring term has started for our academic year students, graduations are on the horizon and we start planning for summer – our busiest time of year. Photo: Entrance path from the parking lot to the sports building.

Sports Building

One of the most visible features of winter for many was the ugly green construction fence blowing in the wind along Marymount Avenue!  Now the fence is down and everyone can see (and I hope appreciate) the changes that have happened.  Mother Nature presented some challenges, but the project is ninety-eight per cent complete.  We are looking forward to celebrating our annual Field Day on Friday May 12th in the newly renovated Facilities, including a new sand volleyball court and picnic area.  Visitors to the building will appreciate the new parking area, modern (and energy efficient) LED lighting and the new accessibility ramp at the front entrance.

Remodeling the entrance created one of the best success stories of the project – re-discovering the quarry in Maine that supplied the original pink granite for many of the buildings on campus.  Our masons carefully cut and matched new stone to old and refinished all to artfully blend the new ramp into the existing steps and façade.  Great care has been taken with landscaping and lighting throughout the project.  We were fortunate to work with an outstanding team of professionals and craftsmen who took pride in bringing the drawings to life. Despite the need to add a crash barrier, we are pleased with the results and hope the community will be too!

Development plan

While work at the Sports Building has been going on, we have had two more projects in the design stage – re-modelling in Butler Hall and the next phase of renovations to the main dining room in Rita Hall.  These projects are part of a plan developed in 2012-13 to revive and regenerate the campus into a 21st century learning and residential environment, meeting the needs and expectations of our staff, students and neighbors. The plan is a living document and may never be completed, but it guides our thinking and prioritizes our investments in an ever-changing world.

In Butler Hall our architects are once-again rising to the challenge of blending the needs of accessibility and modern office space with a 1930s-landmark building.  The new ramp will not be visible from the street and the new office space and bathrooms set behind the classical lobby will provide us with a sleek and vibrant “gateway” to campus – Butler Hall will once again be the heart of campus.

Crave Kitchen

Our student body is drawn from over 70 countries around the world, presenting us with a variety of challenges – one of the biggest being food.  The current generation of students has grown up with branded products and services, which shapes their expectations about their program experience.  While there may be nothing as important as wi-fi and access to social media, the quality of the residential and dining experience is right up there.  In response, we have put quite some time and thought into developing our own dining brand – Crave Kitchen. These guidelines and standards have been implemented in our main dining hall, at the Teahouse (our newly renovated café and bar) and in our convenience store.

Fresh, honest and tasty are the guiding principles behind everything we do at Crave Kitchen – our commitment is to prepare dishes that are responsibly sourced, seasonal and delicious.

The great crater

Despite the best laid plans, there are surprises around (and sometimes under) every corner of a campus with so many buildings and facilities.  Some of you may have briefly seen the “great crater” that recently appeared at the front of campus.  In last year’s renovations at St. John’s/Ursula residence halls, we decommissioned the old oil-fired boilers (which by the way, were so large they had to be “chopped up” in place to get them out of the basement) in favor of modern, energy-efficient gas water heaters and electric heating/air-conditioning.  The remaining challenge was to clean-up and remove the old tank, which turned out to be deeper underground than we thought and under the edge of the campus roadway. The result –  the great crater and a collapsed roadway (now being fixed), but the tank is gone and campus is a “greener” place, or will be once the landscaping is restored!

Sense of community

Students and staff member, Julio Sosa participating at the YMCA Healthy Kids Day at Patriots park.EF is always looking forward in a continual effort to grow, innovate and be a leader in international education.  At the same time, we try to be conscious about our role and involvement in the communities we call home.  At our best, we are a global organization with local roots.

With a mission to open the world through education, EF was founded in 1965.

Community engagement and volunteering continue to be a focus for our staff and students.  Spring is no exception – Earth Day and clean-ups, Healthy Kids Day in Patriots’ Park and Third Fridays are just a few of the events in which we are involved.  We continue to sponsor the museum pass program at Warner Library and will be a “Friend” of the TaSH Farmers’ Market for 2017.  We have a variety of outside organizations using campus during the school year and we have revived an annual Sunday visit for Marymount alumni (on June 4th this year).

On a personal note, this October will mark five years since my own move to the area and my involvement with the campus.  It’s been a steep learning curve (to say the least), but we enjoy living and working here! The campus is still (and will remain) a work in progress, but we hope you can see and feel the progress we have made towards being not only a place, but also an institution, in which we can all take pride and which plays a vibrant role in our community.

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