‘Space’ Under Evaluation

By Beth Hanson

The Commission on Space Use Planning (CSUP), formed in September by President Scott Bierman, is currently evaluating physical spaces on campus.

CSUP is chaired by Provost and Dean of the College Ann Davies and comprised of six other members, Senior Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Ruth Vater’05, Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program Charles (Chuck) Lewis, Dean of Students Christina Klawitter, Maintenance Supervisor Bruce Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literature (French) Scott Lyngaas and Ari Jacobs’12.

“We’ve been aware for a while that we need to pay attention to the way our use of spaces speaks to our priorities,” Davies said.

Thus far, CSUP has evaluated ‘principles’ and ‘priorities’ of space on campus.  ‘Principles’ are themes that guide the work of the commission.  ‘Priorities’ are project ideas.

In order to define ‘principles’ and ‘priorities’ for space use on campus, CSUP has toured campus buildings, researched data and looked to prior evaluations of space, such as the Master Plan.

“One principle that we’re interested in is third places,” Vater said.  Third places combine forma —work—and informal—home—settings.  They invite an interaction between students, faculty and the community.

“Liberal arts in practice means learning outside of classes,” Davies said.  “Third places would provide a space like that.”  An example of an existing third place is Java Joint.

Dining facilities represent a “coincidence of concerns,” between CSUP and the food task force, Lewis said.  “More and more, we’ve seen this movement from Commons to DKs and Java Joint.  Any idea about Pearsons as a third place has to take in the issue of food.”

Third place is also connected to the idea that space should serve all constituents, not just current campus community members.  Spaces should also serve prospective students and their families as well as alumni.

The scope of CSUP’s work is the next five to 10 years.  Given this limitation, the commission needs to determine which projects have the highest priority.

“There’s always only so much you can do,” Jacobs said.  “At the same time, Scott [Bierman] wants us to be open-ended. […] While there are big projects that we can’t do in our time span, the things we are working on will greatly impact the school.”

Four buildings that CSUP has considered as ‘priorities’ so far are the World Affairs Center (WAC), South College, the Smith Building and Pearsons Hall.  While these are buildings that CSUP is considering, Vater said, “There’s not something that we’re totally set on.”

“We’re trying to figure out how we start sharing and soliciting feedback,” Lewis said.  “[We need to] come up with some ingredients and recipes.  We’re not going to go to the community with something fully baked […] but ideas to respond to.”

“I hope that when we do a forum […] students are interested in coming.  We want to share what we’re planning and get feedback,” Jacobs said.

CSUP is currently planning open sessions with the community both before and after winter break. The dates have not yet been set.

“What the community says might help us to organize the order of priorities,” Vater said.

The CSUP plans to have a draft ready to discuss with the trustees in Feb. 2012.  Their report is due to Bierman on March 1, 2012.



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