Students weigh in for future

From more green space to more sidewalks, students voiced their opinions on changes the university should implement during the next 10 years.

The Northern Kentucky University Master Planning team held its first open forum Oct. 24 to examine the school through the eyes of its students.

Dick Rigterink, the lead master planner with Michigan-based campus planning firm The Campus Studio, led a discussion along with students at the forum.

“The reason we need your help tonight is we’d like to have you tell us what works and what doesn’t work,” Rigterink said. “If you were holding our pencil in the next six months, what would you think about?”

Rigterink told students that NKU asked his team to help it ask questions about what improvements to campus could occur to make it more student-friendly and more of a reflection of what students are looking for in the next 10 or 20 years.

Rigterink, who noted that the meeting was focused on students voicing their opinions, asked the students what they liked and disliked about the campus. The discussion picked up from there with students’ opinions pouring in.

Students’ suggestions for campus included a need for more green space and trees, better lighting at night, a larger fitness center for Norse Commons, improved outdoor recreation fields (as well as additional fields) and a need for something, such as Norse architecture, to instill NKU pride into the campus.

Discussion at the forum also generated the idea of installing a button at pedestrian crosswalks to help decrease traffic congestion and eliminate the need for NKU police directing traffic, which Rigterink said they were looking into.

Students also discussed the idea of a new recreation center, center, sidewalks leading from Lakeside to campus, a larger aquatic center and changes in nighttime parking restrictions.

Rigterink said there would be six visits to campus with presentations that will result in a package including the master plan, two area plans, design guidelines and some special graphics. He said over the course of those visits, there will be open campus sessions in which everyone on campus will be invited.

Mary Paula Schuh, the director of Campus and Space Planning at NKU, describes the master plan as a physical representation of the core values and aspirations of the university. She said students will probably be most interested in identifying locations for buildings and housing, and ways to address traffic and parking.

“The master plan is a sort of blueprint for the future development of the campus, not in an exact sense but as a guide,” Schuh said. “It will address facility needs for a campus of 26,000 students, the 2020 enrollment growth goal that the Council on Postsecondary Education had given NKU.”

Besides The Campus Studio, three other firms are working on the master plan: a landscaping firm called Vivian Llambi and Associates, KLH engineers and a space planning consultant firm, Comprehensive Facilities Planning.

These firms are working with a Master Plan Executive Committee, which includes President James Votruba and other NKU administrators. The firms are also working with the Master Plan Advisory Committee, which includes members such as students, administrators and Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers.

Schuh says that the final presentation of the master plan will be in September 2008 and the final document will be completed in 14 months.