How can today's campuses engage and support students, attract faculty and make these institutions work financially as they expand their building footprints?
Those who attended The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) hosted a panel discussion on February 21, 2023, titled "Campus Trends in Higher Education" and got an insider's look at various campuses' perspectives.
Deborah Wylie, Master Planning Director with Cordoba Corporation at BUILD LACCD, moderated the discussion. Panelists included Jay Bond, Senior Consultant at Brailsford and Dunlavey; Sarab D. Singh, CCM, PMP, CEFP, Associate Vice President, Capital Programs & Facilities Management at Cal State Fullerton; Lauren Friedman, Executive Director, Design & Construction, University of California, Office of the President; and Matthew Bibbens, Vice President of Campus Planning and Capital Projects, and Special Counsel at Claremont McKenna College.
Campuses, like businesses, have seen a lot of changes since the pandemic and are making shifts, including in classroom technology, sustainability efforts, outdoor space, and even the use of office or shared workspaces for faculty as some campuses are coming back full time and others are still hybrid.
State Budgets, Infrastructure and Campus Populations
State budgets dictate what projects progress and at what rate as campuses increase their footprint and enrollment.
"We have expanded to 10 campuses across the state with medical facilities and three research facilities, including our agriculture natural resources, which has a presence throughout the state. We now have over 227,000 faculty and staff and 280,000 students and are the third largest employer in California. One of our biggest drivers is an agreement with the state of California with the governor and the legislature to increase our enrollment by 23,000 students by 2030. You can see that that will have great impacts on the work that we do and the facilities that we need to provide. It goes everywhere from housing to educational buildings to support buildings and student spaces," said Friedman.
Sharing this sentiment, Bibbens pointed out that the increased need for student support space to create a sense of belonging on campus is critical, in addition to addressing student housing needs.
"We're a residential college, and we had to assess how students would react to COVID and post-COVID transition; it's been fascinating. There's a huge desire from our students to be back on campus in our market. From what Lauren mentioned, this whole process has reinforced the value of the on-campus experience."
The campus of the future is changing. The panelists cited everything from constructing a new sports bowl, surgery center, and aquatics center to using panelized systems and mass timber.
"It's great to see that college campus buildings are evolving to meet the needs of their student community. We've had good luck with dimensional analysis systems, which we've been looking into for a while. So many things can really help us with our sustainability efforts. We are interested in researching mass timber based on a project at Berkeley," said Friedman.
No matter the infrastructure or design developments utilized, at the heart of it, Wylie brought the conversation full circle and pointed out the actual point of the campus: connection.
"You can learn on a computer but can't get to know someone without going to school with them. It's these connections that you make. It's burning popcorn in your dorm room together. Only seeing people on a screen affects your ability to be as creative, inventive, and collaborative."
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