The focus on the next 10-year plan for on-campus student resources

Preparations for the next decade’s master campus plan is in the works, and a particular focus is being casted on the expansions of student housing and dining options. To help better understand the current state of student needs with food around campus, Facilities Services has hired an outside dining consultant to help pave the path for the next Campus Development Plan. 

The dining consultant — from Maryland-based Porter Khouw Consulting — has already come out for a preliminary analysis of the campus and gathered initial student and leadership feedback. The total cost for the consultation and planning is $29,970, plus reimbursable expenses.

“Their entire rationale behind food service is understanding that it is a social infrastructure more so than it is about the actual food,” said Melony Pederson, project development and construction manager for Facilities Services. “It really gives the opportunity for students to meet and be together. It gives the opportunity for students and faculty to be together, right? So, there is all of those layers in this.”

Part of the deal with the consultant is to provide the focus for a survey that will be sent out in the next couple of weeks. The survey will be open for everyone on campus to respond and provide feedback to better get a sense of how to take on the dining issue. The survey will ask some questions about how students and staff currently get food, so they can apply those answers to a solution which would work, rather than guessing how students, faculty and staff might need.

Pederson also discussed how dining is not the only thing they are taking into consideration for the plan, but that parking, student housing and many other factors are all being considered in the whole process.

“From what I did hear [from students], I was surprised to hear how difficult it is for students, because dining is not just one thing,” Pederson said. “It’s that you have to have a place to park so you can be here long enough, and then if you’re crossing over meal times how does that work? And if I’m busy moving my car — there is a whole world around. Also encouraging students to stay on campus.”

All of this comes from a push in leaders in the UW Tacoma administration and staff to promote more students staying longer on campus. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Mentha Hynes-Wilson is calling for the need to make UWT a “sticky campus,” where students want to spend more time on campus, but not in classes.

“[Housing and dining] is a part of the 10-year master plan, but I am trying to accelerate the master plan when it comes to housing and dining,” Hynes-Wilson said. “Because that’s been a 10-year master plan 10 years ago … This dining facility, I want to fast track it as best as I possibly can, so I am using the language — in the meetings we’ve been talking about the master plan — that I want to activate dining within the next two to five years.”

Hynes-Wilson also touched upon the current plans with the Snoqualmie building and how the preliminary plans are shaping up. She commended the work and talks done between Facilities Services, the Teaching and Learning Center, the Center for Equity and Inclusion and the UWT Library, with everyone sharing their wants and needs, and how to create a space for everyone to get the most of what they need.

“The preliminary design that I have seen from Melony is really quite exciting,” Hynes-Wilson said. “For me, it is the first step towards having a campus living room. So, a central place where people can gather, they can socialize. There’s also academic programs happening. It’s in close proximity of the Mattress Factory, and so there will be this nice flow and exchange between programmatic activities and people, and then over time build that out and have a campus center.”

Both the Academic Innovation building and the Snoqualmie building are in the works to expand on current campus infrastructure, with the Snoqualmie building moving forward in the preliminary designs.