Northern State University was going to host an open house for the newly built Harvey C. Jewett Regional Science Education Center this week, but that shindig has been snow-postponed to next week Thursday, October 17, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
That will give NSU officials more time to consider the building usage rates discussed by the Board of Regents at their meeting last week in Madison. Evidently the new buildings our Regental institutions have been erecting are leading to lower usage rates for older buildings around campus. In Fall 2018, a year prior to the opening of the new science building, the BOR’s Facilities Utilization Report indicates that NSU had the lowest average weekly hours of classroom and lab instruction and lowest weekly use of student workstations among the six public university campi:
The Regents’ stated goals for using academic space are 35 hours per week for classrooms and 20 hours per week for labs. SDSU reaches 70% of that classroom-usage goal; Mines reaches 70% of that lab-usage goal. All other universities are below 70% of both of those usage goals.
Last year, pre-Jewett building, NSU had by far the highest square feet per full-time equivalent student enrolled, 35% more than at SDSU and 61% more than at Mines, at which institutions one would expect the heavier research taking place would require more lab space.
DSU has by far the least total square footage of academic facilities; it vies with Mines for lowest academic space per FTE.
Northern also has the lowest rate of campus housing utilization. It is the only state campus filling less than 80% of its dorm rooms.
If you attend the open house at the spacious new Jewett Center next Thursday, you might want to ask the university dignitaries in attendance how they plan to squeeze more use out of the increasing campus spaces amidst declining enrollment. Is it time for the Regents to rent out dorms to the public for year-round housing? Sell off some buildings to enterprising local businesses?