PITTSFIELD -- Miss Hall’s School will invest a new record $3 million gift into the expansion of its enrollment, academic program, and campus facilities.
According to the school’s communications office, Miss Hall’s Trustee Jennifer Perkins Speers (Class of 1971), in pledging $3 million through The Walbridge Fund, has made the single largest commitment of any living donor to Miss Hall’s School.
The school’s largest total gift came in February 2006, when Barbara Humes Euston (Class of 1929) bequeathed more than $4 million and her home on Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield.
Founded in 1898, Miss Hall’s School currently enrolls more than 205 young women, from 20 states and 20 countries, on its Holmes Road campus. School officials say the institution is on pace to grow enrollment to 250 students, and subsequently expand its campus facilities.
"Through this wonderful gift, Jennifer is allowing all of us on this campus to dream big," said Miss Hall’s interim head of school, Mary H. Grant.
This spring, the school completed its "Go Far, Go Together" capital campaign which raised $43 million to support academic programs, enhance its endowment and create more financial stability, and to fund the construction of new science and academic facilities -- all aligned with the school’s strategic plan.
"Attending our December board meetings, I was energized to learn more about the expansion of the MHS program and student body," said Speers, who in 2010 joined with several family members to establish the $1.5 million Linn Merck Perkins 1914 Land and Facility Fund at Miss Hall’s, in memory of her grandmother.
"I decided to put my money where my mouth is so we could get going on building a state-of-the-art science and math building and dorms for our strong, young leaders of tomorrow," said Speers.
Currently the school operates 25 classrooms, 90 dorm rooms and 19 faculty and staff housing units on its more than 80 acres of property.
Janis Martinson, Miss Hall’s chief advancement officer, told The Eagle that the school is looking to open two new buildings in Fall 2016 -- an academic building to house science and mathematics programs, a new "high-tech" laboratory and the schools’ signature Horizons program for experiential learning, community service-learning and internships; and a new 30-bed residence hall, which will include two faculty apartments.
The school is working with Boston-based Flansburgh Architects. The firm is currently drawing up schematics for the new construction, which will be oriented around the school’s pond area, located between the main building and Klein Arts Center.
"When we put the art center up in 2001, the idea was that the campus would take on the quality of a quad. This will complete the idea of situating four buildings around pond," Martinson said.
She said though students at the school tend to do well on science and math exams, the school wants to advance is instruction in these areas to better prepare students for college and careers. "One thing we know is that women are underrepresented in many science and math fields," said Martinson.
She said the focus of the new high-tech lab will be on design, simulation and fabrication in a hands-on capacity. It will be equipped with areas for robotics, 3D printing and other digital applications.
Martinson said she hopes the expansion of facilities will also help draw more students to the school.
"Not only do we hope to bring greater diversity to campus in terms of student body, but also in our offerings, such as more electives and athletic teams."
Miss Hall’s renovations and campus improvement projects since 2000:
Cross Athletic Center opened September 2000
Klein Arts Center opened September 2001
Humes Euston Hall Library opened September 2001
Student Center opened September 2001
Refurbished living room opened September 2003
Renovated Centennial Hall dedicated May 2004
Refurbished tennis courts opened September 2011
Refurbished softball fields opened May 2012
Firman Writing Center opened September 2013