|Perhaps one of the biggest challenges a non-residential, commuter campus faces is that of creating a sense of community. Where can students gather to visit, to share ide
as, to enjoy one another’s company? Where can they go to interact with faculty, to work on group projects, to participate in group activities? Many commuter campuses do not lend themselves to the informal outdoor gathering more characteristic of their res
idential counterparts. Furthermore, since residence facilities are nonexistent, these typical indoor gathering spots for students also are not available. The commuter campus may also not be as self-contained; that is, while a residential campus generally
provides most of the goods, services and facilities that students need, there is typically much greater reliance at a commuter campus on a surrounding community to serve the needs of the campus for food, entertainment, retail sales and the like. The proba
bility of consistent personal contact is reduced in such an environment.
The challenge is to find places on campus that allow students to interact informally with other students, whether they are working on group assignments or presentations or socializing. At the same time, adequate seating and space also need to be available
for quiet study and research in an environment that is often crowded, noisy and hectic--not a setting conducive to thought and concentration. Particularly for commuting students, quiet space is important because they have no residence facility to utilize
for study purposes.
Creating a sense of community for faculty and staff is equally a challenge in many of the same ways as it is for students. Where can employees gather to interact? How are work spaces organized to promote efficiency yet foster communication? What additiona
l physical amenities would enhance employee quality of life?
When Indiana University Kokomo initiated the construction process for the new Science Building in January 2000, the campus took a major step forward in its “focus on the future,” the theme for the first decade of the 21st century. This major building addi
tion will radically change the physical environment of the campus, providing not only a state-of-the-art facility for science, mathematics, information systems and allied health programs, but also a drastically altered campus footprint. The L-shaped confi
guration of the building forms two sides of an internal courtyard using the East Building and Kelley Center as the two other enclosing sides. This new “courtyard” can now function as the true outdoor center of the campus, creating the possibility of a mor
e collegiate ambiance and serving as a focal point for students entering from the south parking lots and the parking garage. This space will visually connect the major campus buildings, will function as a major pedestrian traffic way, and can serve as a p
lace for members of the campus community to enjoy meeting and interacting.
The completion of the Science Building and the resulting courtyard that will anchor the campus poses a challenge to the campus community. It creates the opportunity to re-examine the use of campus space both indoors and out and address a number of importa
nt questions: How can the space vacated by the relocation of a significant portion of the campus’ academic programs, as well as other space on campus, be best utilized? How can the “courtyard” be developed so that it can become the true outdoor “living ro
om” of the campus, and how might other outdoor space be better used? And third, how can University Chancellor Herman B Wells’ vision of “future generations of students studying and growing in classrooms surrounded by green spaces” be supported?
More specifically through space considerations, how can the needs of the more traditional-aged students that now form a majority of the population best be served and how can the services to non-traditional students be supported? How can academic programs
be enhanced? How can unit and/or institutional effectiveness be improved? How can the quality of life and working conditions for faculty and staff be improved?
To address these challenges, the IU Kokomo campus will shortly begin a conversation about future space utilization. This conversation will include campus-wide participation in the submission of specific proposals that will need to address the fundamental
questions posed earlier and will need to incorporate cost considerations, relevance to the campus mission, impact on other units and the like. This process will help to put a new face on IU Kokomo that ensures that the focus of the campus is on the future
—a future that ensures a sense of participation, a sense of community and a sense of purpose.