University Park,
14:31 PM

Facilities Master Plan Defines the Campus of the Future

A new library is the centerpiece of a finalized Facilities Master Plan (FMP) that presents a comprehensive vision for the future of facilities at Governors State University. In development since 2019, the 200-page plan represents extensive input from campus constituencies and a thoughtful response to achieving the University’s mission, vision and strategic goals. 

“The University didn’t have a current master plan—the previous plan was 13 years old,” said John Potempa, Associate Vice President, Facilities Development and Management. “A new master plan was long overdue.” 

Importantly, the final plan anticipates how the physical campus would ideally evolve to address the long-term needs of students, faculty and staff—including academics, student life, performing arts and athletics. The document, chockfull of graphs and colorful renderings, will serve as a guide for future investments, protection and utilization of land, and facilities resources. The plan encompasses new buildings, upgrades and expansion of existing facilities and infrastructure support like parking. 

“It’s the perfect timing for the FMP, which works alongside the academic planning process,” said Potempa. “And every project links up to a core value of Strategy 2025. 

“The FMP will facilitate our growth of 10 percent over next 10 years. We know that the University will require additional facilities and improvements to its existing physical resources to achieve its mission, vision and strategic plan goals. We wanted to provide a rational and orderly plan to address existing concerns, provide for current needs, and accommodate future needs.”

These needs were prioritized by Cabinet members, who served as the steering committee for the project. Construction of a new library is integral to the success of the entire plan. “If we’re able to vacate the library space, that’s the key to developing everything else on campus,” said Potempa. 

A new library would include space for special libraries serving the College of Business, the College of Health and Human Services, and the College of Education. Ideally, each area might include a small lecture room and the main floor could hold a large lecture hall for events and speakers. Spaces for a small café and a “learning commons” for student interaction are also potential highlights of a new library design. An outside entrance would be easily accessible for community involvement in using the library. 

Other priorities for construction on campus could include a new student success center and center for Innovation and instruction. Updates to current buildings include a new lobby for the Center for the Performing Arts to make it more accessible. 

“This would change GSU for decades,” noted Potempa. “The list of priorities will be done as funding presents itself. And we expect to benefit from some public partnerships.” 

Developing the plan included consideration for thoughtful building and spatial organization, vehicular traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, and parking. “Everything is designed to increase ease of movement and create a better flow for pedestrians and vehicles,” added Potempa. 

Already underway are the Social Justice Institute and the soccer field. The $1.6 million funding for the Social Justice Institute has been secured, and the facility will be located near Hantack House. Work could begin in fall 2023, while the soccer field is already under construction. 

Other new facilities proposed in the plan:

  • New field house/indoor soccer facility
  • New academic extension
  • New Center for Health Equity

The plan includes three parts that informed its development:

  1. Space utilization study to determine how space is currently being used as the University has transformed from a campus without walls to a full four-year comprehensive university
  2. Facilities Condition Assessment to determine the condition replacement value of every part of campus, heating units, roadway tiles, carpet, and more.
  3. Facilities Master Plan outlines the final results and recommendations.

A steering committee composed of the President’s Cabinet provided input and feedback to the planning team throughout the process.  Focus groups and key stakeholders from all areas of the University identified program needs, which ultimately formed the basis for the planning concepts. Community groups were brought in, too, for the initial stages to collect ideas. 

A series of workshop sessions explored how various concepts met planning objectives and addressed program needs. A consensus was reached on the components that would go into a draft master plan. During the third phase, the steering committee collected cost estimates for each of the major projects and considered the priorities. Finally, the committee and Board of Trustees prepared a final draft to clearly define the process. 

“The Facilities Master Plan truly represents a ‘snapshot in time’ and incorporates the University’s response to potential issues,” said Potempa. “And it’s all starting to come together right now.”