University Space Task Force Final Report
Space is a valuable resource and it must be managed, maintained, allocated and acquired in direct support of and alignment with University priorities, addressing institutional objectives as well as goals at the Faculty, School and Department levels. In the context of significant growth in undergraduate and graduate enrolment, research performance and intensity, and the administrative structures required to support those initiatives, it is recognized that the institution faces competing priorities and must explicitly evaluate and balance inherent trade-offs in the decision-making process for the allocation of space as with all scarce resources.
The principle that "all space is University space" must inform all space planning, and space allocation decision processes and outcomes need to be open and transparent. Consideration should be given to developing University-wide principles to provide direction and guidance to Faculties and Schools for the allocation of space in the context of the University's mission and goals (e.g., office space for instructors and researchers, professors emeriti, graduate students; priority but not exclusivity for the allocation of teaching space within academic buildings, etc.). Recognition must be given to the need for flexibility in space planning and allocation, for example, to ensure space requirements for activities that generate revenue and/or enhance the academic reputation of the University are appropriately accounted for while ensuring the University's core teaching, learning and research activities are not compromised by inadequate or inappropriate facilities.
The University has made progress from the Task Force interim report (included below for reference) in several areas:
- A capital planning framework has been developed outlining the business case and approval process for major capital initiatives;
- An inventory of centrally assigned teaching space was conducted over the summer;
- Campus Planning and the Office of the University Registrar are collaborating to develop a comprehensive database of all teaching space as well as processes to maintain an accurate accounting of the space, and this collaboration will extend to communication informing Queen's representation on COU space committees;
- There has been preliminary discussion identifying opportunities to optimize Queen's submission to the COU lnventory of Physical Facilities;
- Priority has been given to allocating space in the summer months to revenue-generating activities as well as activities promoting Queen's academic scholarship and research profile, without compromising academic or student extra-curricular programming; early indications are that this will result in increased business for Event Services over the next couple of years.
The capital planning framework provides an excellent foundation for the development of new space. The University needs to define institutional space priorities (e.g., large and flexible teaching spaces, animal care facilities) and ensure that all new capital projects are at a minimum reviewed to determine if space can be allocated to address these University-wide priorities. The space planning framework must also include a formal approval process for the allocation of existing space that may be released as a result of the capital expansion to either (a) remain with the unit or (b) be reallocated and/or re-purposed to meet other space or growth demands.
In summary, within the context of a highly decentralized environment and the recognition of multiple goals and competing priorities, the Task Force recommends:
- A culture should be fostered at Queen's embracing space as a valuable and scarce resource that serves individual constituents in a variety of ways that evolve over time; in this context space must be allocated and accounted for openly and transparently as a matter of public trust.
- Clear and consistent policies and practices must be established and maintained for the governance and management of space and these policies and outcomes must be well communicated; governance and decision-making-roles and responsibilities withrespect to space planning and management should be clear and accountable.
- Systems and procedures must be in place to provide accurate and timely Information on space utilization, anticipated deferred maintenance and renovation needs and facility management cost effectiveness, with a view to optimizing space utilization and meeting key metrics and service level objectives for facilities management.
Space planning and management clearly provide benefits to the University over the longer term and there are no quick wins in terms of cost reduction or revenue generation. Prudent management, however, can in certain circumstances result in cost avoidance through the optimal utilization of existing space and the potential to avoid major capital investment in new space, and can also provide opportunities to use space to support revenue generating activities. The University community must engage in an understanding of the value of space and if the institution adopts and adheres to a set of transparent policies, such as those outlined by the Principal's Advisory Committee on Space Management in 2003, the result will be the functional, flexible and efficient use of space.
Respectfully submitted, Principals' Task Force on Space, August 2009
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February 2009 interim submission to the Principal
The three priority areas we identified for immediate attention are:
- Space Inventory - Accounting for Space as a Valuable and Scarce Resource:
- Ensure a comprehensive database of actual inventory of space, appropriately and transparently categorized by type and use [e.g., Research/Teaching/Academic Support; Recreation/Athletics/Maintenance/Student and Central Services], as well as primary responsibility [Faculty/School/Central Administration], and develop procedures to ensure the maintenance of the data at least on an annual basis or at a minimum outline the steps and time frame to achieve this objective.
- Ensure systems and procedures in place to measure, analyze and report on space utilization in every category, addressing issues of availability, capacity and suitability.
- Undertake a systematic review and analysis of Queen's submission for the COU Inventory of Physical Facilities, understanding the input measures and reconciling differences between "generated" space by the COU formula and Queen's actual space inventory; ensuring strategic reporting of space statistics, optimizing the institution's relative standing and providing a systematic framework to inform the University's capital and facilities renewal planning.
- Capital and Renewal Planning - as recommended by the Ontario Auditor General, take steps to ensure that the University maintain accurate and complete schedules of renewal and capital project plans each year, carrying forward projects in excess of availability of funding for future opportunities; the University must implement formal and transparent project-ranking procedures and criteria for determining project priorities together with procedure for periodic review and re-evaluation of priorities and evaluation criteria.
- Review space utilization and priorities over a twelve-month planning horizon. Specifically promote the priority to identify opportunities to increase spate utilization and availability in the summer months for direct revenue generating activities that will support the University financially and will contribute to the recognition and reputation of Queen's University nationally and internationally.