Word of Goucher planning a new relationship with Edenwald, our neighboring senior living community, has spread throughout the student body. However, there is uncertainty and rumors regarding specific elements of the plan, such as whether Goucher’s land is being sold, and what kind of interactions Edenwald residents would have with Goucher. There is a general sense that there needs to be more information and understanding about this.
Here’s what we know:
On Goucher’s website page titled “Goucher and Edenwald Explore UBRC”, it states that Goucher and Edenwald have signed a “letter of intent to explore jointly developing a University-Based Retirement Community (UBRC).”
The article continues, saying that Goucher is excited to explore how both institutions’ complementary strengths can “gauge even more seniors by developing additional residences immediately adjacent to Edenwald on land leased from Goucher College to create a fully integrated University-Based Retirement Community.”
The article says that Goucher is also exploring classes that would work for exclusively seniors, as well as intergenerational classes with Goucher students and Edenwald residents.
Goucher firmly states that undergraduates still are the only ones who can acquire residency on campus and that not all classes would be automatically open to the Senior population.
What this means:
At this time, Goucher is not permanently selling a piece of their land to Edenwald, and are instead leading it. According to the URBC page, development on Goucher’s land is a possibility, but this concept is in a very preliminary stage, so it’s not likely that these changes will happen in the near future.
In order to better understand this process, I interviewed Mathew Van Hoose, Associate Vice President of Career and Baltimore-Based Learning, and Isabel Moreno-Lopez, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies. Both are part of a committee that is working on Goucher’s relationship with Edenwald.
Van Hoose said that the community conversation on November 16 prompted “great initial and exciting ideas” from faculty, staff, and students that lead to the formal establishment of the University-Based Retirement Community Working Group. The group consists of five subcommittees: Academic Affairs, Campus Engagement, Dining, Policies and Practices, and Safety and Security, according to Van Hoose.
“Befitting the complexity of this type of process, I’ll start out by recognizing that it’s a process that I think everyone expects to be unfolding over a number of years, not weeks and months, as we consider all the different dimensions of this partnership.” said Van Hoose.
Moreno-Lopez and Van Hoose are both members of the Academic Affairs subcommittee, which focuses on issues such as connecting the academic curriculum with Edenwald residents, as well as strategies for conducting arts events.
“One of the other issues that is within our purview is the exploration of study abroad programming that might involve both Goucher and Edenwald Residents,” Van Hoose said “There is an additional set of conversations about career connections that we can create.
We are keeping in mind that there is a tremendous wealth of professional expertise and knowledge over at Edenwald and so we are exploring ways of beginning to connect our students, possibly through speakers or mentors to support their [Goucher students’] career development”.
Regarding the motive for Goucher pursuing this partnership, Van Hoose said that while there is revenue potential for Goucher, the “philosophical motivations are just as strong.” Van Hoose pointed out how the United States’ aging population means that current Goucher students will enter a more intergenerational workforce and society after graduating.
“I really feel that in the same way, Goucher has a strong commitment to preparing you to work in a global world, it is incumbent upon us to prepare you to engage in an intergenerational world, said Van Hoose. “My training is in sociocultural anthropology so I have a particular interest in the ways our perspectives can be enriched by intentional and deep dialogue with people who come from different social backgrounds.”
“The long-term vision is that we find ways to integrate those opportunities to engage, intergenerationally, into the academic fabric of the College,” Van Hoose explained “Again, in ways that exercise care in relation to the campus environment that brought folks to Goucher in the first place.”
Van Hoose acknowledged the multifaceted, complex layers of the partnership, but wants students to know that many elements of the plan are not finalized or uncertain.
“Some of the connections that we can envision fall into a “sooner as opposed to later” time horizon,” Van Hoose said “For example, connecting Goucher students to potential career expertise… we should have been doing this all along, it’s a tremendous resource at Edenwald.”
Projects the committee would like to see in the near future include sustainable agriculture initiatives on the Goucher and Edenwald campuses, and on the other end, initiatives related to study abroad will likely not be collaborated on for a “few years”, according to Van Hoose.
“In the medium term, we are talking about the possibility of welcoming some Edenwald residents, and it would be a small number, into Goucher classrooms on an auditing basis,” said Van Hoose.
From the committee’s initial outreach to faculty, Van Hoose said that they observed that professors should be allowed to decide which courses are “appropriate for an intergenerational mix,” and that during the registration process, students are aware of which classes are open to Edenwald residents by noting that in the course schedule.
“We also need to decide what the learning objectives are, and what we want you [undergraduates] to learn by virtue of having humans from very different experiences in your midst,” said Van Hoose. “Alongside that, what are the community standards that people at Goucher and Edenwald understand that they are agreeing to? These are folks who have not been part of our community historically and we have some very clear standards in terms of the environment that we are working to cultivate on campus.”
“As we work through all of those complex questions, we are very committed to stopping periodically along the way,” said Van Hoose.
These stops make room for feedback from all sides involved. For example, Van Hoose said that if a few intergenerational courses were piloted in Spring of 2024, focus groups of participating Goucher students and faculty, as well as Edenwald residents would be conducted to understand the experience.
“Of course, Goucher students are always going to have the first opportunity to enroll, and there will likely be some mechanism to ensure a balance between Goucher undergraduates and Edenwald auditors,” said Van Hoose. “A lot of additional feedback needs to be gathered as this process rolls out.”
Moreno Lopez wanted to point out that the change is significant on Edenwald’s side as well.
“In the initial stages, possibly a pilot in 2024, we might see one Edenwald Resident at Goucher. That’s how slow this is going to go. The interest is mutual and Edenwald is also changing its resident population, they want to make it much younger. A 90-year-old is probably not going to come to a classroom, but at 55 or 60 that is more possible,” Moreno says. “This is going to take a very long time and it’s going to be slow there are going to be opportunities for a lot of feedback from the community”
Van Hoose and Moreno Lopez did not have information regarding the land being leased and the possibility of Edenwald developments on Goucher’s land.
Thanks to Van Hoose and Moreno Lopez, this article will hopefully inform more people of the development of this partnership. This is a developing story, and The Quindecim is looking to cover other elements of this plan, such as the other subcommittees involved and the perspectives of people at Edenwald. Stay tuned for more updates.
Picture courtesy of Edenwald.org