You are here

Articles: Facilities

Meg Mott is a professor of political theory at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt.

Recently, the White House Council on Women and Girls issued a report pledging to “make our campuses safer” from sexual assault.

According to their research, “1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while she’s in college,” a troubling statistic which the authors explain by “the dynamics of college life.” Female undergraduates, we are told, are abused while intoxicated by men whom they know in passing.

Leslie M. Gomez is a partner in the White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

A senior administrator recently described the issues related to sexual misconduct as a dormant volcano that lies beneath main administration buildings on campuses across the country. This is a sentiment echoed by many administrators committed to successfully responding to issues of sexual violence and harassment, but sometimes uncertain how to get there. With prevalence rates high and reporting rates low, colleges face challenges in designing and implementing effective responses. But an integrated institutional plan can help.

The top trend in college performance spaces today is the flexibility being built into them. From adjustable walls and seating that can accommodate a variety of performance types to acoustics that adapt to handle everything from African drums to an orchestra, theaters are expected to match specific events.

“We see more and more educational users asking for fully flexible ‘black box’ type spaces, where the stage and seating can be rearranged for each production,” says Robert Shook, founding partner at Schuler Shook, a Chicago-based theater planning consultancy.

Located in the heart of campus at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, the 40,000-square-foot Dion Family Student Center offers a centralized space, housing a variety of student services. Nearly half the student population can access the center right from their dorms.


Students had used the Alliot Student Center, built to serve less than 900 students, since 1961. Full-time enrollment is now approaching 2,000. Alliot also didn’t provide much beyond a dining hall and bookstore.

Construction budgeting software allows Southern Methodist U to maintain a digital record of projects and ensure future projects have adequate funding for site development and other line items.

A Midwestern state university budgeted about $12 million for a major addition to its library several years ago. At the time, there was not a tightly controlled project planning process at the institution and the library’s plaza—already a major central gathering space on campus—was not included in the project budget.

Sidewalks weren't part of the construction project budget for the Hurvis Center at Lawrence U, but that piece was still planned ahead, through a local landscaper.

In some cases, colleges and universities will opt to fund some site development items, such as landscaping, as an operational cost instead of a capital cost.

But the decision depends on owner needs and should still be made in advance, during the budgeting process for the entire project. Here’s how two institutions have approached the decision:

Stephen Madigosky is a professor of environmental science at Widener University in Chester, Pa.

I live in a world of lectures, faculty meetings and final exams. For my environmental science students and me at Widener University in Chester, Pa., however, it’s also a world of hands-on research on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica, or experiential learning in the rainforests of Peru.

This world didn’t include university food service contracts, price points, or product launches until my chance meeting with an alumnus who shared a passion for environmental sustainability. That meeting led to a simple, delicious cup of coffee.

Many small institutions wrestle with the annual assessment of how to manage routine capital projects. A backlog of deferred maintenance items can further complicate planning.

For decades, academic libraries have been distinguishing elements of campuses across the nation. Providing abundant resources along with quiet environments conducive to individual study, these buildings withstood the test of time, serving the needs of students and faculty alike. Today, modern technology, along with rapidly changing student study habits and expectations, are significantly reducing the demand for brick and mortar resource centers.

Similar to their corporate counterparts, institutions of higher education have to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, which means managing budgets and achieving bottom line results. While there are many factors that contribute to success in this arena, the recent decline in state support for higher education is making it more difficult for colleges and university to grow and thrive. Today’s reality is that reduced funding puts more pressure on colleges and universities as they compete for limited dollars.

In fall 2012, Sage launched the Achieve Degree program, an online degree designed for students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs, who generally work from home or their local library.

The future Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall at West Virginia State University.

West Virginia State University broke ground in October on a 291-bed, $20 million residence hall, the first to be constructed on campus since 1969. The four-story building will sit prominently on the main lawn of campus and provide a “pass through” between the student union and quad.

Repurposing an old campus building may not have the wow factor that comes with creating a new facility from scratch. But colleges and universities driven by financial, environmental and sentimental forces sometimes find rejuvenating the buildings they already have is a more practical solution.

Today’s up-and-coming millennials are taking different learning style and lifestyle trajectories than our country’s one-career, suburban dwelling baby boomers. Young 20- and 30-somethings have flocked to metropolitan centers seeking upscale amenities, edgy culture and a more sustainable way of living and learning. They are attracted by underground music venues, microbreweries, artist galleries utilizing nontoxic materials, and Wi-Fi cafes that serve free trade coffee.

Todd Kelly, Vice President for Library and Information Services

It was clear four years ago that Wisconsin-based Carthage College needed a new system for managing help requests from the campus community. The Library and Information Services (LIS) staff of 25 was manually handling nearly 12,000 questions each year from faculty, staff and students about everything library or technology-related. Additionally, many of the requests were sent made informally directly to technicians. That made tracking and follow-up nearly impossible, especially given the rapid growth the college was experiencing.