When colleges are mentioned, images spring to mind of ivy covered walls or new technology buildings in the corporate style. Yet, we know that colleges and universities are so much more than their buildings. Every situation is different, but it’s worth considering the following questions:
- How does our facilities strategy fit with our mission? What role do buildings play in our mission?
- Are we getting our best impact from our buildings? What metrics do we collect? Would tuition / sq ft / building be useful? A student-course-hours / sq ft / building could also be useful. What about maintenance and energy costs?
- Does a hybrid strategy make sense to get better utilization? This question overlaps with instructional delivery, but how can rooms in the buildings support better learning? What is the best use of a face-to-face experience? How many such experiences are needed? Buildings are emphatically not required for lecture.
- How do the technology strategy, instructional strategy, and facilities strategies interact? What are the tradeoffs? What are the optimal points?
- What other value do buildings have to the institution? Office space, museums, libraries? It’s good practice to capture the worth and metrics related to justification of budget.
Because the facilities budget can be such a large part of the overall budget, it makes sense to ask these and other questions to get the best return on inputs. Questions like what’s the value per sq ft are deeper than they look, because we can connect the utilization to more than just classroom and revenue. How can facilities aid your retention strategy? Your student satisfaction?