Published: Feb. 5, 2019

CU Boulder’s Strategic Facilities Visioning project team has completed its initial deep dive phase, gaining valuable insights from units across campus and setting the stage for the scenario planning discussions to come next.

Strategic Facilities Visioning (SFV), which will create a framework for facilities decision-making for the next 30 years, began in September with the project team meeting with “visionaries”—more than 130 faculty, staff, students and shared governance representatives from every college, school, research institute and major support unit on campus—to gain a holistic view of individual program visions.

The deep dive phase was rooted in understanding CU Boulder’s current state and the path to achieving a 30-year facilities vision. Specifically, the SFV team focused the deep dive around three investigative questions that enable simultaneous understanding of the university’s future plans and their implications on campus spaces:

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  • What does the university want to accomplish?
  • How does the university want to accomplish it?
  • How will we measure success?

Eight themes (people, operations, experience, brand/reputation, innovation, collaboration, impact and community), each linked to one of the chancellor’s strategic imperatives of lead, innovate and impact, provided the structure for organizing stakeholder feedback and unit strategic plans. Through more than 90 deep dive sessions with visionaries from individual units, each conversation was mapped to these themes to discover which topics arose across multiple departments. Highlights from this synthesis included:

  • Anticipated student demographic changes are a driving factor in future strategies to create a positive, student-centered experience for a diverse population.
  • Most units desire greater collaboration, improved sharing of facilities and resources, and resource optimization to enable them to better reach their goals.
  • Although deep dive work sessions were conducted at the unit level, there is significant emphasis on facilities transformation at the university scale, reinforcing a university-first mindset for how space is provided, managed and operated.

Throughout the SFV process, the project team has worked with Academic Futures, Financial Futures, Foundations of Excellence and the IDEA Plan to ensure the direction of SFV is aligned with these high-priority campus planning initiatives.

“The deep dive discussions provided a wealth of knowledge and insight, in addition to creating the context for the SFV approach,” said David Kang, vice chancellor for infrastructure and sustainability. “The topics and key themes that emerged now form the basis for future investigation as we move forward with the SFV initiative.”

The culmination of the deep dive phase is the arrangement of six scenario planning teams: Future Demographics, Federated Flexibility, Resilient Asset Management, Portfolio of Pedagogy, Research and Innovation Ecosystem, and Integrative Facilities. Composed of an interdisciplinary mix of SFV visionaries, each team will work to develop and test future facilities and infrastructure options in relation to a variety of university requirements and opportunities.

Initial work is also beginning on development of a digital planning tool that will help inform impactful strategic facilities investments in the coming decades. Development of this tool will continue into the future vision strategy and operations plan phases of SFV. 

“One of the key goals of SFV is to identify opportunities for infrastructure, real estate and facilities investments that support a strategic campuswide vision for the evolving educational and research landscape,” Kang said. “The planning tool will be flexible, adaptable and dynamic, utilizing a spectrum of data to aid us in evaluating those opportunities.”

The scenario planning phase is slated to begin later this month and run through the spring semester, with vision strategy and operations plan phases following during the summer and fall. Ultimately, the unified strategic facilities vision and planning tool established by SFV will help inform the next campus master plan due in 2021.