Rick Turoczy, Wim Wiewel, Melody Rose and Dr. Joseph Robertson Jr.  discuss the meaning of campus expansion at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland. (St. Mary’s Academy)
Rick Turoczy, Wim Wiewel, Melody Rose and Dr. Joseph Robertson Jr.  discuss the meaning of campus expansion at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland. (St. Mary’s Academy)
St. Mary’s Academy on May 18 hosted a forum that called on experts in education, business, technology and development to analyze and enrich the school’s campus expansion.

The school for girls purchased a downtown block to add to its campus, which was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1859.

The forum was meant to ensure that school officials reach high enough, says Kent Roberts, chairman of the board at St. Mary’s. 

“The campus expansion project is not only about bricks and mortar – it’s about how St. Mary’s can continue to be the leader in education for the future women leaders in our own community and throughout the world,” Roberts says. 

Keynote speaker Renée James, president of Intel, encouraged St. Mary’s to increase science, technology and engineering programs and form partnerships with tech firms.

A panel discussed the expansion, in which St. Mary’s will replaced a post office near Portland State University.

“Think differently about what classrooms look like,” advised Melody Rose, president of Marylhurst University. “They have been the same for hundreds of years and they don’t match what we now know about learning and what is needed to bring students to success.” 

Diane Fraiman, partner at Voyager Capital, suggested that the school establish mentorships with business leaders.

“Mentorship is one of the most important tools for women in the job market,” Fraiman says. “It will allow your students to understand the work place, and to learn how to become brave and reliable leaders.”

Other panelists included Rick Turoczy, co-founder of the Portland Incubator Experiment; Dr. Joseph Robertson, president of Oregon Health & Science University; Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University; Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear; Andy Bryant, chairman of the board of Intel; Mark Edlen, managing partner at Gerding Edlen; Tom Kelly, chair of the Portland Development Commission and CEO of the Neil Kelly Company; and Bob Scanlan, CEO of ScanlanKemperBard Companies.

The experts insisted on the importance of flexibility and sustainability, both in terms of construction and financing to make sure the new campus will stay adaptable and relevant for years to come.

“You need to connect the dots,” said Edlen. “Build what is needed for your school’s mission, then add components like a start-up incubator, makerspace (shared areas for artists and inventors), senior living space, as well as an attractive ground floor foyer to invite the neighborhood on campus. This is an amazing opportunity and a great responsibility for St. Mary’s. Your biggest risk is not thinking big enough.”