Feb 8th, 2010 @ 1:11 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley, VCSU President
Valley City State University is in the midst of a campus master planning process to analyze our current physical campus situation and assess future needs. The planning process, being conducted at VCSU by JLG Architects, is mandated by the State Board of Higher Education, and serves to prepare campuses throughout the North Dakota University System for the 2011 Legislative Session. This is a comprehensive review to analyze all phases of the campus physical infrastructure. We are looking at academic buildings, athletic facilities, student residence halls, Vangstad Auditorium, landscaping, energy usage, etc. The plan will also provide an updated condition assessment evaluating the mechanical, structural, and environmental aspects of the buildings. It truly is a comprehensive review and will serve the campus well as we make decisions and prioritize our resources in the years ahead to best serve the students, faculty, and staff at VCSU.

The Master Plan process began last fall with architects visiting all the departments and programs throughout campus. This gave architects an opportunity to interview employees about the current space and structures within which they operate, and explore opportunities for how these areas might be maximized to best serve the needs of our current and future students. Just as we prepare a strategic plan for the university related to enrollment, academic, and mission-related goals, so too must we conduct similar planning for our physical infrastructure.

Anyone who has ever set foot on the VCSU campus knows we are fortunate to have an array of beautiful and historically significant buildings. Many of these buildings were built at the turn of the last century or at least during the first half of the 20th Century. They are buildings with beautiful architecture that were well-built, have been well-maintained, and have served this campus and thousands of students for many decades. However, with older buildings also come significant challenges with deferred maintenance, efficiency standards, accessibility, life safety, and the usual wear-and-tear that can accompany an older building. No doubt, we have wonderful buildings on this campus that we will continue to maintain and utilize for future generations.

As a University, we also understand today's reality. The newest building at VCSU is the Rhoades Science Center, and it is nearly 40 years old. Aside from a major interior renovation in Kolstoe Residence Hall a few years ago and smaller renovations in McFarland Hall and Graichen Gym, there have been no new building projects and no major renovations to campus buildings in nearly four decades. I believe we have the dubious distinction of having the "oldest, newest" building of all North Dakota college campuses. These facts eventually take their toll on our ability to attract and retain new students. For today's college student, amenities such as renovated classrooms, modern laboratories, and updated residence halls have a real impact on their decisions for where to seek post-secondary education. We simply need to push for the necessary upgrades on our campus to remain competitive with other colleges and universities in our region that have taken similar strides. This campus master planning process will help VCSU identify the priorities to successfully continue educating our students, and provide the tools necessary to plan for the future. We will share our findings later this spring with the State Board of Higher Education, and further convey our needs during the 2011 Legislative Session.