College Facilities Administrators at Sightlines Insights Summit ’17 Point to Space Utilization and Student Engagement as Key Challenges for Future

Conference participants identify need for innovative facilities solutions to deal with changing conditions on college campuses

Guilford, Conn. – November 29, 2017 – Facilities executives at some of America’s leading higher education institutions need more effective space utilization plans and greater student engagement in campus facilities management, according to attendees at Sightlines Insights Summit ’17.

“Higher education executives told us they are working hard to reassess how they use the space on their campuses to better respond to changing trends in academic interests and declining student enrollments,” said Mark Schiff, president of Sightlines, a Gordian company and the recognized leader in facilities intelligence and analysis for higher education institutions. “This includes fundamental assessments such as how they are scheduling classes and which buildings they are using.”

Efficient space utilization requires campus leaders to separate fact from fiction when it comes to their space and its usage. This typically involves creating an inventory of all teaching spaces and rigorously analyzing the utilization of rooms, seats and conditions before benchmarking against peers and best-in-class institutions.

Another emerging challenge revealed by attendees at Sightlines Insights Summit ’17 is the need for greater student engagement in the way that campus facilities are managed. Specifically, featured speakers from the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida referred to the emerging trend of “social maintenance” — the use of social media as a more efficient communications channel for soliciting feedback from students regarding the conditions of facilities.

Conference participants expressed optimism that greater student engagement will lead to a campus facilities strategy that is more reflective of students’ preferences and a campus maintenance plan that is more responsive to students’ concerns.

“One campus leader predicted that social media may eventually replace the standard ‘work order’ system that higher education facilities departments have used for decades,” said Schiff.

Sightlines’ Insights Summit ’17: Charting a New Course in Facilities was an educational and networking event designed to strengthen the lines of communication between key decision makers in the finance and facilities departments at North American colleges and universities. The exclusive conference for higher education executives took place earlier this month at the Charleston Marriott in Charleston, S.C.

“This year’s conference featured a number of workshops and breakout sessions that really facilitated some excellent peer-to-peer dialogue,” said Schiff. “Our moderators were senior finance and facilities administrators from member institutions and they did a great job of stimulating discussions that helped the attendees return to their campuses with tools to address future facilities challenges.”

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