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John O. Harney, Executive Editor, Connection
New England Board of Higher Education’s Connection Magazine Explores Issues in Campus Architecture
BOSTON-New England college campuses face a host of new architectural issues from improving access for people with disabilities and wiring buildings for the future to recruiting students with state-of-the-art facilities and practicing sustainable architecture, according to experts writing in the Summer 2002 issue of Connection magazine.
Connection authors note that the “look” of a campus is crucial in recruiting today’s consumerist students.But not all the focus in campus architecture is on luxury dorms and glitzy student centers. There is also new interest in functionality — in how daylight, flexible furniture and adaptable space can be used to encourage collaboration and improve student learning.
Connection is the quarterly journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe)-and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.
Other Summer 2002 Connection articles explore the impact of recession on New England higher education, the dangers of declining interest in the humanities and faculty attitudes toward distance learning.
Following is a summary of articles in the new issue of Connection:
Form Follows Function? Architects used to design campus buildings to meet the needs of specific programs or faculty. It was assumed that the programs would never change, and buildings were constructed accordingly — solid and often inflexible. No more. Today, flexible building design is the name of the game. Massachusetts-based campus planning consultant Arthur J. Lidsky explains why.
A Building Like a Tree, a Campus Like a Forest Architect and sustainability guru William McDonough and colleagues explain how sustainable design begins with an assessment of the natural systems of a place — its landforms, hydrology, vegetation and climate — to suggests appropriate patterns for development.Building materials are selected with the same care; they are chosen only after careful assessments of a variety of characteristics, ranging from their design chemistry to the environmental impacts of their use, harvesting or manufacture. “The resulting architectural and community designs meet exceptional levels of performance andcreate beautiful, healthy environments for human and natural communities,” according to McDonough.
Campus Architecture Is Campus Marketing From commissioning celebrity architects to constructing luxury dorms, colleges make building decisions in an attempt to draw students and support, according to Elizabeth Padjen, editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine. “The weapon of choice in the marketing wars is architecture, specifically architecture that matches the expectations of prospective students,” writes Padjen.
The Shape of Things to Come Think of New England higher education and you probably think of ivy-covered brick. Or if you’re feeling cynical, perhaps cold, dank concrete. But the built environment of New England’s college campuses is far more diverse, more complex, more daring, more educational than the stereotype. And it’s changing fast thanks to profound forces such as consumerization among students, town-gown relations,historic preservation and sustainability. A special Connection Photo Essay showcases innovative campus building projects from New Haven, Conn., to Biddeford, Maine, that offer some sense of the shape of things to come.
Stores of Knowledge Colleges are turning retail space into classrooms. Connection explores how fixing up an existing building can be more cost-efficient than buying land and building from scratch. Besides,it improves town-gown relations and gives colleges a presence where an untapped pool of college students are—smack in the middle of the region’s old downtowns. It also presents an array of new challenges from permitting to compliance to universal access.
Connecticut Builds Billion-dollar investments in public higher education don’t come easily in Connecticut — or anywhere in New England. So, when in 1995, Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and the state’s General Assembly approved the $1 billion comprehensive infrastructure improvement and private incentive program known as UConn 2000, it was something bordering on the revolutionary. University of Connecticut President Philip E. Austin describes how the 10-year construction program has made the university a national model for infrastructure investment.
Save the Humanities Degrees in history, English, philosophy, foreign languages and religion have declined in recent decades, while degrees in computer science, public administration and business management have grown. In 1971, business majors outnumbered English majors by 78 percent. By 1994, the differential had ballooned to 300 percent. Tufts University historian John C. Schneider and colleague Sherry A.Darling warn that declining interest in humanities spells trouble for the professions and for civil society.
Transmission Transition Will college faculty learn to love distance learning? University of New England Professor Michael F. Beaudoin surveys faculty on using emerging educational technologies and finds that fully one third received no training from their institutions to prepare them for their new instructional roles. Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported that they never saw the results of student evaluations nor receive any feedback regarding their teaching. The distance educators also said they received little appreciation from colleagues or their institutions for their efforts. Only two respondents say they are compensated more for distance teaching than for classroom instruction.
New England Economic Outlook University of New Hampshire economist Ross Gittell predicts that a mild recession followed by slow growth will promise mixed blessings for New England higher education. Stateand federal funding will suffer, but the soft economy also gives colleges an opportunity to target programs and services to students leaving the labor market. Gittell also observes that “over the next few years, no single academic program area is likely to boom in the way, for example, that e-commerce did in the late 1990s. Nor will any single industry or occupation lead the economy so much that it creates as strong pressure for new academic programs.”
Crunch Time Even during the mostly good economic times from 1988 to 1997, the composition of revenues at public campuses shifted from state appropriations to tuition and fees, according to the National Commission on Costs of College. New England Board of Higher Education Director of Research Michael K.Thomas examines how current state budget woes are squeezing New England’s already-low public investment in higher education and pushing tuitions still higher.
Book Reviews Former Connecticut Higher Education Commissioner Andrew G. De Rocco reviews Higher Ed Inc. Freelance writer Alan R. Earls reviews The History of Teradyne. Jane Sjogren of Johnson & Wales University’s Educational Leadership program reviews Financial Responsibilities of Governing Boards.