If you think Stonehill’s campus is quiet in the summer, think again. After commencement, the College hosts thousands of people who use the campus in dozens of ways all summer long.
From Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s Baseball Camp for kids, to a series of road races attracting runners from across the nation. From the world’s top scientists discussing nucleotide polymorphisms, to middle and high school kids learning broadcast journalism and forensic science.
“Since 2000, we’ve transitioned from being a nine-month-a-year campus to going full-speed 12 months a year. And that’s really benefitted the College,” said Conference and Events Director Christopher Augeri.
In the 1990s, the College hosted “maybe a handful of groups” each summer. Today, it hosts between 25-30 groups, Augeri said. In the last 15 years, foot traffic has increased more than 10-fold, from approximately 1,000 guests to the 10,000-plus on campus this summer, he said.
Aside from the obvious benefit of increased revenue from summer clients— a number Augeri said has increased seven-fold since 2000— Stonehill reaps the rewards of summer activities in a number of other ways.
Stonehill hosts a number of academic camps—both day-camp and residential— for students in grades K-12 all summer long. Kids learn everything from how to build model rockets to how to invest in the stock market, from learning graphic design to theater arts and everything in between.
“Academic enrichment programs have the potential to translate into applications,” Augeri said.
Not only do families fall in love with the beauty of Stonehill, but kids familiarize themselves with the campus, often leading to applications down the road, Augeri said.
“By being on campus, we’re essentially taking theses academic groups and funneling future students into the admissions process,” he said.
“Statistics from the Association of College and University Housing Officers show that when you have a student attend a summer program on a college campus, you’re odds increase tremendously for that student applying to that college.”
It also gives Stonehill’s admission counselors an opportunity to present to the campers, Augeri said. “They’re not necessarily promoting Stonehill, but teaching campers how to find a college that is the right fit. “
For the last seven years, summers at Stonehill have kicked off in late May with the “Taste of Easton,” a local food-tasting and business expo sponsored by the Easton Chamber of Commerce and held in the Roche Dining Commons.
Local restaurants serve up their goodies, hundreds of Stonehill’s neighbors come to taste, local town officials judge the cuisine and award prizes with a portion of the ticket proceeds going to the Easton Food Pantry. “It’s basically good town-gown relations and helps to engage the community. It exposes Stonehill and all the great amenities we have to offer,” Augeri said.
THE WORLD’S TOP SCIENTISTS
For the past several summers, Stonehill has hosted top national and international research scientists.
Some of the world’s best scientific minds convene on campus to discuss Iron-Sulfur Enzymes, Intrinsically Disordered Proteins, Atomic and Molecular Interactions and more through the prestigious Gordon Research Conferences. Augeri said, “We even had the Nobel Prize winner in physics present at Stonehill in 2012.”
Augeri said Stonehill students taking part in the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE Program) are able to pick the scientists’ brains each evening. “At the end of each day, the scientists gather to discuss their work, and I have our SURE students come in every evening to hear the scientists talk, chat with them and really network with the top scientists in the world. It’s a great way for our students to make connections especially if they’re considering grad school.”
Attracting some 2,000 runners representing 35 states, the Narragansett Summer Running Festival has been the largest summer event at the campus since it started in 2013. Founded by Jason Paganelli '06, the 5K/10K/half marathon is looking to grow even bigger next year, and may become a two-day residential affair, Augeri said.
Likewise, the Dustin Pedroia Summer Baseball Camp, held at Stonehill for the last several years, attracts hundreds of young athletes from all over Red Sox Nation. Kids ages 7 to 18 learn about the sport and hear the second baseman talk. About 150 of the young athletes live at Stonehill during the Sox camp with another 150 attending as day-time commuters, Augeri said. Overall, the College hosts 15 different sports camps.
With the influx of summer guests, said Augeri, the Roche Dining Commons now needs to remain open year-round with Sodexo Dining staff continuing employment through the summer months. “This helps to create and keep excellent continuity in the dining services workforce year-round,” said Augeri.
Augeri is also able to hire six students as on-site event planners: “They execute amazing customer service and learn about taking care of a customer’s needs. It’s a great skill-set to add to their resumes, and I’m able to write them solid recommendations upon graduation.”
The collaborative work of departments throughout campus also plays a key role in the College's event services operation.
“It takes a lot of effort from many departments on our campus, working together, to make Stonehill a place organizations want to come to,” Augeri adds. “The work of so many people on campus is the key ingredient to our success in being a sort-after destination for various groups.”