Rutgers starts process to create master plan for U. framework
According to Antonio Calcado, vice president of University Facilities and Capital Planning, Rutgers belongs to the students, not the administrators.
“We want to look very closely at the student experience at Rutgers,” Calcado said. “We want to find ways to improve that experience for all students. We’re looking forward to really making improvements and moving us forward as a premiere research institution.”
In conjunction with its strategic plan, Rutgers has officially initiated the process to create the next physical master plan, which provides the framework for how the University operates, he said.
“The physical master plan really looks at how we grow the University, where we best put our resources in order to be able to support the Strategic Plan,” he said.
The master plan is a living document that ultimately needs approval by the Board of Governors, he said. This new plan is scheduled to be presented to the board in June 2014.
“So that’s how we move forward. That’s how we plan buildings. That’s how we plan transportation systems. That’s how we determine where student services will be,” Calcado said. “It all works kind of in conjunction, but it is a living document. It’s not meant to be done and then put on a shelf, and no one ever looks at it again.”
The last master plan, created in 2003, provided suggestions for how Rutgers would construct several new buildings over the last 10 years, said Frank Wong, executive director of University Facilities Planning and Development.
“For example, the citing of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health is consistent with that older plan,” Wong said. “A fair amount of the development on the Livingston campus is consistent with that and a lot of construction on Busch as well.”
The Camden and Newark campuses are also included in the master plan, Calcado said.
“Each campus has its own nuance, but we are one University. … We recognize the differences between the campuses, but we’re still one University,” he said.
Calcado said everything happening in regards to data collection, forums and town halls is scheduled to also occur in Camden and Newark.
In order to get students’ feedback to help create the master plan, the University’s consulting firm, Sasaki Associates, developed a survey for students, Wong said.
“It’s Sasaki’s proprietary software. We asked them to really bulk it up and enhance it because it’s never been rolled out to a university of this size and scale, so it’s very Rutgers specific,” Wong said. “It’s the first time it’s been used in this sculpt and manner.”
The survey’s purpose is to help the University Planning team understand how Rutgers operates and how it needs to be organized.
“This is critically important,” Calcado said. “We really need to collect information from students. We need to understand what it is they do at the University on a daily basis, what they like, what they don’t like, what impediments, what makes life difficult for them, what slows them down.”
The survey is built to analyze students’ daily activities in terms of where and when students travel, attend classes, dine, socialize and study, Wong said. The survey asks them to provide comments on the conditions of on-campus facilities.
From this, planners can develop a clear understanding of the areas of students’ concerns and put this information together on a list. Wong said they think the survey is an effective way to gather information from students because it is interactive and tech-based, making it more advanced than a typical online survey.
In addition to the student survey, faculty members have the opportunity to take the adjacency survey, which is geared toward learning about their current and possible needs, Wong said.
“We’re basically asking individual faculty members to identify what other faculty they do collaborations with,” he said. “They collaborate and do research with people in other disciplines, and we wanted to find out which people each faculty person does a lot of collaboration with and kind of map onto a campus map where those linkages are strongest.”
Wong said this information could be used to either build stronger connections among certain departments or even to physically locate faculty members’ offices closer to their departments.
Once the survey responses are collected, the Office of University Facilities and Capital Planning will take the results a few steps further.
“We’re going to present the results,” Calcado said. “We’re going to validate the results in town halls and in different forums and in different venues, and we’ll do that after the beginning of the spring semester, probably somewhere in February.”
Calcado wants complete engagement from the entire University on this survey.
“This is a really important initiative,” he said. “It effects the path of the University for a long time to come, so it’s critical for us and for the University to make sure that we have a clear vision of how we get to where we want to go.”
Kerri Willson, director of student involvement for Rutgers Student Life, said the struggle to find space on campus for student organizations is a concern.
“Whether that be large programming space that can accommodate more than 500 students or even rehearsal space, we are really struggling in terms of identifying space for where our performing arts groups can rehearse,” Willson said
She said Rutgers was originally designed to cater to four different campuses: Rutgers College, Livingston College, Cook College and Douglass College. For example, students enrolled in Rutgers College would take classes on the College Avenue campus.
“In 2007, with the transformation of undergraduate education and the affiliation of these colleges going away — that has changed significantly how our students are utilizing the campus and the staff to a great extent,” she said.
When the University hired Willson in 2004, she was hired as a Rutgers College staff member. At the time, she rarely left the College Avenue campus, but now she works for the entire University and has staff on each campus.
“So how we travel through campus buildings and resources we’re using have changed significantly, and I think this is such a unique interactive tool that’s going to help the University,” Willson said.
Calcado said within the next 10 years, he would like to see a change in the everyday life of the students.
“I want to see us be as operationally efficient as we possibly can be so that the student experience at Rutgers is greatly enhanced.”
The survey can be found at masterplan.rutgers.edu and participants are automatically entered to win one of five Apple iPads and 50 $10 Starbucks gift cards, Calcado said. The survey can be taken until the end of November.