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University News

Planning committee concludes work

Senior administrators said the ad hoc committee’s work was vital to the strategic plan draft

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nearly 11 months after President Christina Paxson announced the formation of two ad hoc working groups to focus on campus master planning and digital technology, the campus planning task force has completed its work, while the digital technology committee has been in a holding pattern, wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

The temporary committees were formed to advise on issues “that cut across several areas of University governance,” Quinn wrote.

Responsibility for campus planning falls jointly on the standing committees of the Corporation in charge of facilities and design, academic priorities, student life and University budgeting, motivating the formation of an ad hoc committee that draws on all of these areas, Paxson told The Herald in October.

The master planning task force comprised about a dozen people: a mix of Corporation members from several standing committees, alums and “friends of the University,” Carey said. The committee convened for several conference calls over the course of the last year, as well as a full-day meeting around February’s Corporation meeting, he said, adding that Paxson was present for each conversation.

The ad hoc committee discussed and issued recommendations on topics similar to those considered by its campus counterpart, the Committee on Reimagining the Brown Campus and Community, one of the six strategic planning committees composed of administrators, faculty members and students, Carey said.

Among the topics deliberated and resolved by the master planning working group last year was the decision to locate the School of Engineering expansion on College Hill rather than in the Jewelry District, Carey said.

The master planning task force also advised Paxson on whether and how to proceed with a potential renovation of Dynamo House, a vacant former power plant near the Alpert Medical School, Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 wrote in an email to The Herald.

Discussions also focused on outlining “principles and priorities for academic space needs,” Carey said.

Sasaki Associates, a Boston planning and design firm, delivered presentations to the ad hoc master planning task force on how best to use campus space, Schlissel wrote.

Quinn wrote that the master planning task force was “instrumental” in advancing the campus planning component of the University’s strategic planning process.

Carey said the committee “contributed a great deal” to “many of the things that are reflected in the draft of the strategic plan … around campus planning, campus development and physical needs of the campus.”

The ad hoc committee’s work also played a role in the decision at May’s Corporation meeting to rename the Committee on Facilities and Design as the Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning and to broaden its mission, Carey wrote in a follow-up email to The Herald. A Subcommittee on Design Review was also established to help with oversight of major capital projects and the selection of architects.

“These changes were influenced by the work of the ad hoc committee and the planning process last year” but were also “part of a periodic review” of the Corporation, its committees and their charges, Carey wrote.

The ad hoc working group on digital technology came together for two phone calls and advised on the search for a new chief information officer, Quinn wrote.

The committee considered areas where the University should invest in technology, particularly with regard to online education and campus information technology services, Schlissel wrote.

The digital technology task force decided to defer further work until a new chief information officer was hired, Quinn wrote. With new Vice President for Computing and Information Services and Chief Information Officer Ravi Pendse now in the fold, “the committee will review potential next steps.”

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