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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 forpeople with disabilities and wiring buildings for the future to recruiting students with state-of-the-artfacilities 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 newinterest in functionality — in how daylight, flexible furniture and adaptable space can be used to encouragecollaboration 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, thedangers 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 ofspecific programs or faculty. It was assumed that the programs would never change, and buildings wereconstructed accordingly — solid and often inflexible. No more. Today, flexible building design is the name ofthe 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 WilliamMcDonough and colleagues explain how sustainable design begins with an assessment of the natural systems ofa 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 varietyof characteristics, ranging from their design chemistry to the environmental impacts of their use, harvesting ormanufacture. “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 constructingluxury dorms, colleges make building decisions in an attempt to draw students and support, according toElizabeth Padjen, editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine. “The weapon of choice in the marketing wars isarchitecture, 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 ofivy-covered brick. Or if you’re feeling cynical, perhaps cold, dank concrete. But the built environment of NewEngland’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 buildingprojects from New Haven, Conn., to Biddeford, Maine, that offer some sense of the shape of things tocome.
Stores of Knowledge Colleges are turning retail space into classrooms. Connection explores howfixing 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 studentsareÑsmack in the middle of the region’s old downtowns. It also presents an array of new challenges frompermitting to compliance to universal access.
Connecticut Builds Billion-dollar investments in public higher education donÕt come easily inConnecticut — or anywhere in New England. So, when in 1995, Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and the state’sGeneral Assembly approved the $1 billion comprehensive infrastructure improvement and private incentive programknown as UConn 2000, it was something bordering on the revolutionary. University of Connecticut PresidentPhilip E. Austin describes how the 10-year construction program has made the university a national modelfor infrastructure investment.
Save the Humanities Degrees in history, English, philosophy, foreign languages and religion havedeclined in recent decades, while degrees in computer science, public administration and business managementhave grown. In 1971, business majors outnumbered English majors by 78 percent. By 1994, the differential hadballooned 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 civilsociety.
Transmission Transition Will college faculty learn to love distance learning? University of NewEngland Professor Michael F. Beaudoin surveys faculty on using emerging educational technologies andfinds that fully one third received no training from their institutions to prepare them for their newinstructional roles. Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported that they never saw the results of studentevaluations nor receive any feedback regarding their teaching. The distance educators also said they receivedlittle appreciation from colleagues or their institutions for their efforts. Only two respondents say they arecompensated more for distance teaching than for classroom instruction.
New England Economic Outlook University of New Hampshire economist Ross Gittell predicts thata 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 andservices to students leaving the labor market. Gittell also observes that “over the next few years, no singleacademic program area is likely to boom in the way, for example, that e-commerce did in the late 1990s. Nor willany single industry or occupation lead the economy so much that it creates as strong pressure for new academicprograms.”
Crunch Time Even during the mostly good economic times from 1988 to 1997, the composition ofrevenues at public campuses shifted from state appropriations to tuition and fees, according to the NationalCommission 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 EnglandÕs already-low public investment inhigher education and pushing tuitions still higher.
Book Reviews Former Connecticut Higher Education Commissioner Andrew G. De Rocco reviewsHigher Ed Inc. Freelance writer Alan R. Earls reviews The History of Teradyne. Jane Sjogren ofJohnson & Wales University’s Educational Leadership program reviews Financial Responsibilities of GoverningBoards.