Austin College Vice President for Institutional Enrollment Baylee Kowert ’05 knows well what visitors and students are thinking when they come to visit.
As the campus emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2022, the College’s leadership was taking a fresh look at the physical environment of the campus. “We realized it was important to reconnect with each other in spaces that provide comfort, familiarity, and inspiration,” Kowert explained. “Everywhere our students study, live, gather, and enjoy meals together should reflect the energy and forward motion that the next generation of ’Roos will be delivering into their communities.”
Some 21st century updates were needed. Plans were developed for a Campus Esthetics project that addressed signage, landscaping, and hospitality spots to connect the College’s powerful academic brand with the physical spaces where Austin College life transpires.
“Austin College is rooted in a place-based educational learning experience, with the emphasis being on ‘experience,’” said Kowert. “The experience encompasses everything from the lecture of the day in the Economics course, to the welcoming sounds of the library, to the food in the dining hall. These elements make up the impressions experienced by our students, faculty, staff, and prospective students, and help connect them to the mission of Austin College.”
The first phase of the Esthetics project has resulted in large-scale outdoor banners placed at the entries of key locations. Wright Campus Center, Abell Library, and Mason Athletic Complex have crimson-and-gold banners that tell the story of what is inside each space. These signs and others make campus navigation easier for visitors and also project some bold ’Roo spirit.
“The Campus Esthetics project aims to fuse how one feels about this place with the design of the campus, and elevate the experience of being here,” said Kowert. “We want interaction with the College to move from being just another day on campus to an inspiring sense of community where everyone belongs and strives to be their best.”