The Arka Tech

Master plan: student focused, updating

The master planning schedule is broken down into a time frame of production to finalization so the plan can begin.

Tech plans to improve campuses with a 10 month master planning process that will act as a “road map for the future,” according to the Tech master planning webpage.

For the next eight months, the university will offer a variety of opportunities for the Tech community to express opinions and provide feedback about the Russellville campus, Ozark campus and Lakepoint conference center. The master planning process was set in motion January 2017 and is expected to be completed by October 2017.

The master planning cochairs include Bernadette Hinkle, vice president for administration and finance, and Mohamed Abdelrahman, vice president for academic affairs. The process will be led by Polk Stanley Wilcox architects from Little Rock and Perkins and Will campus planners from Austin, Texas.

“This plan is a critically important project for the university due to the condition of some of our most heavily used facilities, such as Witherspoon, McEver and Young,” Hinkle said. “We have competing priorities for major capital improvements to our facilities. We also recognize students want a student recreation center, new housing, and outdoor classrooms and seating.”

“We want the student perspectives about campus life to help influence and create the environments for students to want to stay and engage with each other instead of packing their bags and heading out of town on the weekends.”

Six task forces have been created to offer specific topic-based input into the master planning process, and each task force is being led by faculty, staff and student representatives.

The task forces include building/facility needs and space utilization, enhancing transportation and parking, improving technology infrastructure, creating sustainable campuses, integrating community and preserving campus heritage, and ensuring safety and security.

Dr. Jeff Robertson, dean of the college of natural and health sciences, interim dean of the college of business and professor of astrophysics, is participating in the master planning process as the task force chairperson for creating sustainable campuses and as a committee member for the task force assessing building and facility needs and space utilization.

“My biggest concern is for the aging buildings and infrastructure on our campus,” Robertson said. “While the newer buildings are amazing, there are many more places on campus that do not reflect or speak to the academic excellence being practiced and delivered by faculty and pursued by students. Unfortunately, many of these places are where the majority of students and faculty spend the majority of their time as well.”

Robertson said that there were some of the obstacles that the master planning process faces.

“Getting everyone to be engaged in the process for one,” he said. “Being able to truly prioritize things for another, to ensure we make significant progress, because there will always be more limited resources than we have money to implement. We want to make sure to spread priorities in such a way that something does not suffer at the expense of something else.”

Students can provide feedback through the open forum on the website, attending upcoming master planning meetings and through contact with student representatives that are on the task forces.

More information about the master planning process, schedule and task forces can be found online at atu.edu/masterplanning.