Housing Master Plan will enhance the residential experience, improve amenities

Published: August 18, 2022 Author: Staff reports

University officials and consultants provided a progress update, part of a series of updates over the past year to the Board of Trustees to develop a housing master plan for Athens campus residence halls.

The update included a set of planning principles, building-by-building investment recommendations, identification of sites being considered for recommended new construction, and reiteration of buildings targeted for eventual demolition.

The plan outlines investments needed to right-size and enhance the portfolio including programmatic changes to current and future living experiences, adding additional engagement and study space and improved amenities within residence halls.

“The residential experience at Ohio University is one of our defining features, and that positive experience reinforces our students’ academic success,” Ohio University President Hugh Sherman said. “As student needs and demand continue to evolve, now is the time to establish a long-term plan to ensure we have both the capacity and the quality for our future students.”

The plan lays out a set of principles to follow, including:

  • Meet the evolving expectations of students and their families and remain competitive with other institutions;
  • Maintain an appropriate capacity of beds, flexible to adapt to changing circumstances, to house first- and second-year students;
  • Maintain proximity to the core campus, capitalizing on the neighborhood feel of the East, West and South Greens;
  • Include more community spaces (outside of sleeping areas) to allow for individual or group study, social and recreational activities, and other uses within residence halls;
  • Ensure investments that are made consider student affordability and the University’s financial resources;
  • Ensure that the residential experience nurtures inclusivity, wellbeing, accessibility, and connectivity to outdoor spaces, culinary venues, recreational facilities and transportation.

The plan includes four levels of updates with a goal of bringing 100% of the University’s residential spaces up to a common standard. Major renovation of existing halls, minor renovations where recent investments have already occurred, and maintenance investments in halls that have had recent investments are recommended. New construction is also recommended to fill gaps in room style needs, replace facilities beyond their useful life, and provide capacity needs aligning with enrollment projections.  

The plan currently calls for a sustained capacity of 7,500 beds to ensure adequate housing for first- and second-year students. The University has issued a request for proposals for Athens-area apartment owners to partner with the University to serve as an extension of the residential experience in the event that ongoing renovations require additional bed space.

Future steps in the plan’s development include a detailed financial plan and prioritization of investments to be made over the next six years. As individual projects in the plan are ready to be implemented, they will be brought to the Board of Trustees for approval.