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The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the way our students and educators live, play, and learn. While some of these impacts will fade as outbreaks become less frequent, we are seeing many areas where the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already underway.  Right now, in higher education, there is a window of opportunity. However, this window is narrowing, and now is the ideal time to be carrying the enhanced agility and collaboration created on college campuses during the pandemic.

Image: Huntington University HUB

What is a master plan?

A master plan is the first step to updating a college or university’s strategic plan. It’s a roadmap, for how the University will shape its physical spaces to align with and enhance its strategic goals. For most plans that includes goals related to enrollment, on-campus residential targets, optimized space utilization, as well as enhancing student engagement and success. In short, an effective master planning process will result in a plan that will be able to multiply the effectiveness of a strong strategic plan.

Image: University of Notre Dame Morris Inn

Master Planning
Master Planning
Master Planning

What does a great master plan look like?

  1. Prioritization of needs
  2. Future developments/renovations
  3. Regulations/zoning standards
  4. Long-term investment plan
  5. Sustainability features/environmental conservation

Image: Saint Mary’s College Health Sciences

Master Planning

What are questions to be asking and trends we are seeing?

While the deliverables of a masterplan look similar to the past, the questions we’re asking, and being asked, have started to show acceleration around some specific trends that are good thought-starters for most explorations.

  • How can spaces be evolved to better serve the needs of today’s students and faculty?
  • Are there new/unexpected ways that we can differentiate ourselves for tomorrow’s student?
  • How will legislation like the College Transparency Act and other public scrutiny affect the curriculum that colleges and universities continue to provide?
  • How can we take the lessons witnessed about the value of outdoor spaces to create low-cost, high-value, 3rd spaces?

Image: Huntington University HUB

The items illustrated above are just a few of the exiting themes that we’ve been seeing in recent months. But every campus and master plan is unique. Exceptional master plans take some time to accomplish, so if you are considering starting your college or university in that direction, the best advice is to start moving forward now.

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