First Student Open Forum in Webb
Dominion University, in conjunction with representatives from Perkins+Will international architecture design firm, held the first of several Student Open Forums concerning the new update to the university’s Master Plan.
Alongside representatives of Perkins+Will, an international architecture design firm, Old Dominion University held the first of several student-open forums concerning new updates to the university’s master plan.
The forum aimed to inspire ideas on how to improve the campus directly from a small representation of the student body. ODU as well as representatives from Perkins+Will had already held open forums with the Student Leaders and Student Government Association on Tuesday, Jan 15.
“We have been analyzing the statistical data for the logistics of the school, but we are highly interested in constructive input from the student body itself,” said David F. Harnage, the Chief Operating Officer of ODU.
The ambitious update to the ODU Master Plan will cover the projected growth of the student body and campus within the next 20 years.
“We are interested in what you, the students, have to say about how you would like the future of Old Dominion to look by 2034. How do you want to contribute to the future ODU generation? What legacy do you want to leave behind once you become an alumni?” asked Krisan Osterby, planning director for Perkins+Will.
The forum was located in the Webb Center Isle of Wright Room and was composed of 35 students and several members of the campus community. Each individual was asked three questions with the 20-year time-frame in mind: What do you hope would be the same? What is not working? And what is the campus missing? The questions were meant to go beyond the statistics of ODU into what the students felt would help grow ODU into the best school it could become.
“One thing I’d like to see improved is better drainage of water on campus and better utilization of space in Webb Center,” senior Aaron Turner said. Sophomore student Joe LaFalce agreed with a majority of the students present concerning the Webb Center. “The Webb Center is located in a great spot, but the space is underutilized,” LaFalce said.
The plan is propelled by four main motivational “drivers” or needs of a collegiate institution: academics, economics, quality of life, and legacy. The Master Plan is aimed at improving all of these aspects in whichever ways best fit the campus and its students.
There are four main phases to the project: observation and analysis, concept and design, master plan and implementation strategies, and document decisions and final presentation. The project is currently transitioning from the first phase, into the second phase. The observation and analysis phase is aimed at considering the needs of the school using statistics as well as input from the students, faculty, city officials, neighborhood leaders and the surrounding community.
The concept and design phase will take all the data and input and construct it into several tangible designs and goals. The master plan and implementation strategies phase will condense the designs and goals into the preliminary plan for what would work best for the school considering all the options. The document decisions and final presentation phase will be the final draft of the plan and should be completed in June.
“This is the first forum open to the general student body. We are testing the process to see how we can better get input from the students. We plan to rely heavily on the website as well as the various forms of social media to best allow all of the students and community to participate,” Don Stansberry, the assistant vice president of student engagement, said regarding the low turnout of students.
In the next few months, The Office of Student Engagement as well as the SGA will be focusing heavily on student outreach in order to gain as much input as possible using the ODU website, Facebook and Twitter as well as having booths inside Webb Center and other high traffic areas.
“We really want to get as much input from as many people as possible that the plan impacts. We hope to create a beautiful visual implementation of your needs that will make this a truly great and well recognizable school,” Benjamin Sporer, landscape and architect design leader, said in closing.
To give your input to the Old Dominion University Master Plan project, check out the Master Plan website at www.odu.edu/masterplan where you can find a schedule of upcoming events as well as contact information for where to send your ideas and input into the future of Old Dominion University.
By: Josh Bray