Architects John Burse and Stacey Wehe are embarking on a journey with Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, the second oldest women’s college in the country. Stacey shared with Mackey Mitchell staff members the results of a two-day focus-group session with Stephens faculty, staff, and students, and is learning about the college’s many noteworthy attributes. In 2004, for example, thanks to its current president Diane Lynch, this highly-rated private college of 1100 students became the first pet-friendly campus in the country. Today, 38% of college campuses offer housing with some pets permitted. At Stephens, the rules have to do with the animal’s breed – no aggressive pooches allowed – and a 3-week probationary period is required to make sure the animals demonstrate acceptable behavior.
The motive behind pet-friendly campuses is to help bridge the gap between home and college and provide an easy ice-breaker for students to make new acquaintances. The college also suggests that pet owners tend to be more responsible. If a student is up early to tend to an animal, it’s likely they’ll make it to the early class. Stephens also has an on-campus doggie daycare and a program for students to foster pets through a local no-kill animal rescue organization, Columbia Second Chance. Space for pets is limited, however, so students must apply to live in the pet dorm. Future campus planning and design considerations at Stephens will be adopted to accommodate this popular concept.