User Involvement Improves Planning

If done right, a controlled, orderly growth of your institution will be ensured

Long-range facilities planning for college and university campuses can be an effective tool for organizing and controlling the orderly growth of the institution. The planning process should be preceded by a significant period of self-analysis on the part of the school and the users. Planning efforts that include a facilities planning consultant and do not involve the users are likely to result in unbuilt plans that gather dust in the president’s file cabinet.

Who knows better how a specific department works if not the department head? The planning consultant acts as the facilitator by helping to draw out information in an organized manner and the translator who converts that information into a workable plan. Involvement gives the users a sense of ownership in the resulting plan that can go a long way toward ensuring that it remains alive, actively guiding facility development on the campus over an extended period of time.

Preparing a questions list

A specific list of questions should be addressed by administrators, faculty and student leaders before the planners begin work. Sufficient time should be allowed for individuals to develop well-reasoned answers and for these answers to be reviewed by a small, long-range planning committee of faculty and administrators charged with overseeing the process and critiquing the results. Typical questions for administrators and academic department heads include:

  • What your department does and how it does it.
  • What the departmental organization chart is, showing all staff and the reporting relationships.
  • What each person in your department does.
Master Plan for Hannibal LaGrange College

Master Plan for Hannibal LaGrange College

  • What the work flow in your department is and how people relate to each other and to other departments.
  • The number of people in your department now and how many you will need when the college grows.
  • The kind of work spaces your people have now and the kind they need.
  • Special requirements for air conditioning, ventilation, electrical power, lighting, plumbing or heavy structural loads.

A question list for student leaders can include:

  • The principle pathways of student traffic within the campus.
  • The principle destinations of students off campus and within the community. These should be places normally reached on foot.
  • The types of places on campus for student gatherings and the sort of new places needed for such gatherings.
  • The types of student housing that should be provided.
  • Should groups of students be together in suites or should large groups be collected in a house?
  • Should student housing be co-ed? In addition to sleeping and study areas, what other functions should be provided in student housing?
  • The types of student organizations that exist or may exist in the future, and the types of spaces they will need.