September/October 05
Issue 11


this issue...


A Rationale for
Campus Life Improvements

The Seven C's of
Choosing Consultants




In the construction trades the act of aligning of building elements is also known as truing, a tacit rectitude. Alignments in social interactions, seeing someone eye-to-eye, may imply agreement, but, more importantly, connote personal relationships. Educational institutions ultimately benefit from strong social ties established by alumni donors while they are students, as George's article this month implies. Arthur's column explores considerations to get the ducks in a row whenever an institution chooses a consultant, the open-eyed truth. We hope you find our perspectives on these topics useful.

If you have reactions or ideas to share, please let us know what you think by e-mailing:

  A Rationale for
Campus Life Improvements

New academic buildings increasingly provide social settings as opportunities for students to become engaged in a well-rounded curricular and campus life, shown here, the Science Education Technology Building at Cabrini College.   Many established institutions are constructing facilities to foster student engagement and interaction, shown here, the Smith College Campus Center.

Historically, colleges and universities have been perceived almost universally as places. Indeed, until very recently, what goes on at these institutions has been inseparable from the physical environment that supports, symbolizes, and sustains the activities. This unitary concept is, of course, changing as the national and global education environment evolves. On-line universities and distance-ed programs at place-based institutions, and other approaches that de-couple time and place have established themselves as significant forces in higher education. In a comprehensive survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 56 percent of all 2- and 4-year institutions offered distance-ed courses in the 2000-2001 academic year. An additional 12 percent were planning to offer such courses in the following 3-year period 1. And according to the 2005 Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, The University of Phoenix on-line campus has the fifth-largest enrollment of all US institutions with 48,085 enrolled.

Interestingly, it seems that the most successful of these institutions recognize that programs that are delivered only remotely do not provide optimal outcomes. As described by the leaders of two of the best-known cyber-providers at different SCUP plenary sessions over the years, these institutions complement their on-line offerings with place-based activities that facilitate face-to-face interaction of students and faculty 2. Listening to these sessions supports the notion that there is a real human need for personal, physical, eye-contact interchange to truly support learning.

Place-based institutions have always recognized this and have increasingly realized that the richer the campus life experience is, the more complete the interaction is, the more compelling the experience can be, and the more profound the possibilities for learning. Institutions that are heavily residential are the classic examples of the type. With a “captive” population, these institutions have the opportunity, indeed, the responsibility, to create a distinctive community and a range of experiences that the student perceives as wholly unique. The intensity of life in such a community can be, by turns, exhilarating and exhausting, but, most importantly, all consuming. People have a fondness for their college years largely in response to these dynamics, which are (some would say thankfully) not readily replicable in later life.

Place-based institutions must pay attention to the campus life experience they provide. Increasingly, this factor distinguishes them in higher education. On-line institutions can provide the content, delivering it with ever-improving effectiveness through always-advancing technology. They can provide equivalent content for fewer dollars than place-based institutions. What they cannot provide is the rich, all-consuming campus life experience that enhances and stimulates learning. Creating a dynamic, challenging curriculum conceived and taught by committed faculty in an environment that uniquely supports learning is the obligation and privilege of place-based institutions. The richer the experience, the more profoundly influenced students are and the more tightly bound they become, committing themselves to supporting the institution that afforded them such a thrilling, all-absorbing time in their life. If the mission-oriented rationale needs help, this financial reality helps provides it.

Clearly many, if not most, institutions understand this. After all, the range of campus life facilities and opportunities on most campuses is impressive and represents a major investment. For smaller institutions of modest means, however, there is still progress to be made. Academic and residential facilities will always be predominant in mission-driven institutions, but campus life facilities and programs are the essential third leg of the stool that solidly supports learning and living at our campuses.

George Mathey


1 Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions: 2000–2001, NCES 2003-17, E.D. Tabs.

2 Diana Laurillard, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning Technologies and Teaching) at the Open University in the United Kingdom, SCUP 34 - Atlanta 1999, and Laura Palmer Noone of The University of Phoenix, SCUP 36 - Boston, 2001


The Seven Cs
of Choosing Consultants

What is the reason for engaging a consultant? Is it to address physical, academic, organizational, or financial issues? Usually they are interrelated. The type of consultant will depend on the desired comprehensiveness of the solution.

Private institutions have more flexibility in assembling the committee than do public colleges and universities. Nonetheless, those that will be affected by the study should have strong representation in the selection of the consultant! A committee of seven to nine members is ideal. The user committee, the committee that interacts with the consultant during the course of the study should be different from the selection committee.

Make sure that you and the consultant have a realistic schedule for institutional review, collegial discussion, consensus building, fund raising, and design and construction if that is a solution. The success of your project depends, to a large part, on the character and quality of discussion, communication, and consensus.

All major issues related to curriculum, number of students, faculty, and staff, mode of teaching, organization, and priorities should be resolved prior to choosing an architectural consultant.

Be careful of the low bid and limited scope which then expands during the reality of the study and every minor change becomes an add-on. If there is a budget target on a construction project, make sure that the consultant understands that the target is the PROJECT cost and includes the cost of construction as well as such costs as: A/E fees, furnishing and equipment, contingencies, and administration costs.

This is your responsibility –you must articulate exactly what you really would like the consultant to do. Preparing a concise and accurate RFP or RFQ is critical to the choice of consultant and success of the project.


The mystic magic of compatibility – of chemistry – of choosing a consultant with the right personality for your campus's particular circumstance and the unique personalities of the people who will work together for a long and intense time.

Arthur Lidsky


Wayne State University -
School of Business Administration

DLC+A recently completed a facility programming project for Wayne State University's School of Business Administration. DLC+A collaborated with Neumann Smith & Associates, architects who developed a concept design from the program summary. This project is one focal point of the University’s current capital campaign.

PKAL National Colloquium
Arthur Lidsky spoke at the recent PKAL (Project Kaleidoscope) colloquium in Kansas City. The theme of the workshop was Translating How People Learn...into a Roadmap for Institutional Transformation.


SCUP's Integrated
Planning Institute

Arthur Lidsky will be a faculty member presenting on campus planning for SCUP's Integrated Planning Institute from January 20-23, 2006 in Tempe, AZ. The session will be: Step II: Focused Knowledge for Integrated Planning Process.

For more information, visit


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