Magazine article University Business

For Sale: Classroom Building: How Leaders of One Institution Decided It Was Time to Part with a Building Owned since 1959

Magazine article University Business

For Sale: Classroom Building: How Leaders of One Institution Decided It Was Time to Part with a Building Owned since 1959

Article excerpt

LIKE MANY WHO WORK IN higher education, I love university traditions--the rituals, events, and stories that carry on and bind together each generation of students. Those traditions engender devotion to our institutions on the part of our alumni and make us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.

But as much we love our traditions, they carry a risk. They can render us slow to adapt to change. Sometimes colleges allow tradition to tie them to outdated practices that no longer match the institution's mission or the external environment. We need courage and wisdom to discern when it is time to hold on and when it is time to let go.

That's the choice Robert Morris University (Pa.) confronted when we decided to put up for sale the classroom building we had owned in downtown Pittsburgh since 1959. Three years later the university had purchased property for a residential campus in suburban Moon Township, 18 miles from downtown, but the city remained a focal point of the school for many more years.

Downtown Pittsburgh had been the home of Robert Morris since its founding in 1921, and many of our alumni completed their degrees as commuter students at the downtown campus. Nonetheless, RMU's center of gravity eventually shifted to its residential campus. Downtown enrollment had declined steadily since the early 1980s. In 2001, RMU stopped offering most undergraduate programs at that location, and at the time of the sale in 2010, we used only about one-third of that building.

Meanwhile, we're experiencing tremendous growth in Moon Township. We welcomed 900 new freshmen this fall--breaking last year's record of 720. We have a record number of residential students, and we're building a new apartment-style residence hall to ease a housing crunch. Along with this hall, a new facility for our School of Business will open next fall. With the Pittsburgh building in sore need of renovations and upgrades, we realized the resources necessary to maintain it would be better spent at our Moon Township campus.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This decision entailed numerous challenges. Although the building was underutilized, it housed several important programs. Undergraduate media arts classes take place there, mostly for freshman and sophomores, and while plans are underway to build them a facility at our main campus, we don't currently have room for those classes in Moon. …

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

Oops!

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.