Officials plan to beautify U while utilizing local resources

by Mike Rose

After more than 10 years, the Campus Master Plan will get an update.

Requested by University President Bob Bruininks, the revision process started in February is expected to be completed and presented to the Board of Regents by fall 2008.

While many students might not be aware of it, the Campus Master Plan outlines future projects and goals, Tim Busse, communications director for University Services, said.

The revised plan will be updated to include recently announced developments such as the East Gateway District, stadium development, and the Central Corridor light-rail project.

“It will be a user-friendly guide to the University,” Busse said.

Five work groups, including students and faculty, will facilitate the revision process. Group members are assigned specific topics and then make recommendations for the Campus Master Plan.

A 12-member steering committee will help bring these five groups together. This committee is co-chaired by University professor Judith Martin and Vice President of University Services Kathleen O’Brien.

However, it’s still early in the process, and the groups do not have any specific recommendations for campus.

“They are not far enough along in their work to do that,” Martin said.

She said that the groups should be finished by December. The steering committee will then review the work and “craft the update to the master plan.”

O’Brien said it’s a good time to begin a revision process.

“Like any document, it is important that it is updated and relevant,” she said.

The main goal of the process will be to ensure that campus is aligned with and supports the academic mission of the campus.

“We have a beautiful campus, how can we ensure that it is serving the academic enterprise?” O’Brien said.

Also, she said the University should optimize its position on the Mississippi River. The focus will be to incorporate the river as a place of teaching, research, beauty and possibly transportation.

Lastly, O’Brien said she wants the plan to be more usable and applicable.

“We have a very excellent plan in place, but it sits on the shelf,” she said. “We hope that the updated plan becomes more of a living document that will be used every day.”

One major difference between this revision process and the 1996 version is who actually does the work, O’Brien said.

In 1996, an outside consulting team developed the plan for $300,000.

This time, the revision will primarily be an in-house operation, with a budget of $200,000 to hire researchers and graduate students for specific projects, O’Brien said.

“It will be much more our product,” she said.

The University will also work closely with area neighborhood groups and the St. Paul and Minneapolis city governments.

In the fall, the University will hold open forums for students to voice their opinions on the Campus Master Plan.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly representative Suzanne Sobotka and Minnesota Student Association representative Missy Gettel are members on the steering committee.

“I thought it was a helpful process,” Gettel said.

Gettel stressed that one of her main goals is to improve the relationship between campus and the surrounding communities.

“(Local residents think) we’re just a bunch of college kids, not necessarily good neighbors,” she said.

Gettel also said that making campus an enjoyable environment is an important aim.

“There is a lot of focus on making campus livable and somewhere students want to be,” she said.