Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

SCUP's Influence on Higher Education: A Collection of Themes and Trends

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

SCUP's Influence on Higher Education: A Collection of Themes and Trends

Article excerpt

Institutional and Corporate Members as Colleagues and Learning Partners: Thirty Years of Learning Together

by Dick Rigterink, retired campus planner and consultant, served on Planning journal editorial team

There are 42 coffee mugs in our kitchen cabinet and neither my wife nor I drink coffee. Each is a reminder of experiences encountered while working on a different university campus. But perhaps more important than the long range master plans these mugs represent, are the people we worked, learned and remain good friends with to this day. It is impossible for me to separate my evolution as a campus master planner from my participation with SCUP as they evolved together and were mutually reinforcing. As a consultant, I grew to appreciate and ultimately to prefer, emphasize and depend upon a truly interactive planning and design approach: an approach built on trust, mutual respect and the belief that better ideas and products result when multiple perspectives are considered. This is an approach that is fundamental to the SCUP philosophy which assumes that consultants and institutional representatives have much to learn from one another and that through respect and sensitivity, can learn from one another and achieve wonderful things together.

The following time line as expressed in mug time rather than real time summarizes my personal journey as a campus planner and dedicated SCUP member.

Early in my 30 year campus planning career (about mug #5 in mug time), it was apparent that to achieve a successful campus master plan, the campus community needed to feel that they played a role in its development. As self-perceived experts, we didn't think we really needed much input but we did need their support. Working with a campus master planning committee (comprised of campus representatives) proved just the ticket. This allowed the consultant team to explain their recommendations in greater detail while allowing the campus folks to help work out the details. It was about this time that I joined SCUP and attended my first national conference. The institutional folks were friendly and easy to talk to. I almost felt guilty thinking about marketing opportunities.

By mug #10, things were getting a little out of hand. A single committee wasn't cutting it any more. Now we were talking about a faculty committee, an administrative committee, the student committee, the regents and "special issue" sessions. During the interview, we talked as much about campus involvement as we did the "real issues" (how great our past work was). But strangely enough it was becoming apparent that by encouraging campus involvement, the institutional folks were actually making real contributions. During this period, my participation at SCUP grew and I was hooked. I attended all the national conferences. I was invited to help with a number of tasks. I discovered I was enjoying seeing and interacting not just with past clients but making new friends and establishing contacts from across the country. I couldn't believe I had access to folks I couldn't get to outside the conference setting. While attending SCUP activities, most of the institutional folks treated the consultants as equals and relationships evolved.

Mug #20 defined a major threshold. We were suddenly discovering that our clients were often dealing with quite different issues and concerns than those on which we were focusing. Through interaction and real communication, we discovered we could move beyond the traditional physical master planning priorities and get to a deeper level. SCUP became a major opportunity not for marketing, but from a learning perspective. At the conferences, I relished informally interacting with a wide range of campus focused professionals to test out ideas and approaches and was even talking to some of our competitors. I began using this approach outside the SCUP conferences by calling my SCUP contacts when I needed specific information or wanted to confirm a new way of thinking about things. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.