The large majority of American colleges and universities are in financial depression. They suffer from decreasing net revenue, a growing stock of deferred maintenance and redundant real estate, and uncertain, if not declining, enrollment. At the same time, all of higher education struggles to increase and demonstrate student learning in the face of declining career and job placement rates. Accelerating these cyclical issues, Presidents and Chancellors need new approaches to find sustainable solutions to the economic pandemic that is engulfing their institutions.

One new pathway towards increasing net revenue and student learning may be found by strategically integrating campus real estate, facilities, and student learning. The re-purposing of obsolete or redundant facilities as marketable assets to be leased to interested third parties would increase net revenue. If these leasing arrangements are directly connected to the institution’s educational and disciplinary priorities, colleges and universities can create student experiential learning opportunities on their own campus. These academic components can be directly tied to specific student research projects, impactful internships, clinical fieldwork, and solution-based civic engagement work in support of local challenges.

Innovative pedagogical initiatives could be the fuel for an educational renaissance for campus stakeholders and their institution’s reputations. The re-purposing of real estate and facilities for greater student learning and local civic prosperity holds the potential for an engaged and financially successful future for colleges and universities.

As innovators in the field of higher education, facilities assessment, and real estate development, the Planning Plus team is known for our expertise in academic leadership, finance, and development. We formed our team specifically to meet this moment of acute crisis within the higher education sector. We find solutions with our clients and we stay with them throughout the planning and implementation stages. We believe in our concept and we are eager to partner with those willing to think outside the box.

Article By:

Dr. Richard Guarasci, PhD
President Emeritus, Wagner College & Principal, Presidential Partners LLC