Each and every college campus has its own unique story, its own roadmap which tells where it’s come from and where it’s going. Campus master planning plays a significant role in the development of this story, if done strategically and thoughtfully.

In order to develop a master plan that will inform future decisions, it is critical to incorporate a few key ingredients. These include understanding your mission and vision, soliciting input, and developing an “actionable” master plan. A successful campus master plan addresses these three components in order to result in a plan that will strategically guide you in both your short- and long-term decisions as you move forward.

Understanding your mission and vision: A comprehensive master plan must be built on the mission, vision, and goals of the college or university. This vision and direction serves as the compass for the master plan, impacting your needs from specific building nuances to overall campus strategies.

Soliciting input: A strategic master plan’s success is often dependent on consensus building and communication. In order to build consensus, information must first be gathered and assessed. A comprehensive master plan relies on gathering this information from a number of targeted user groups—including representation from the facilities department, select vice presidents, specialty areas as appropriate, and occasionally a select student representative or member of the Board. By incorporating input from each of these unique user groups, greater depth and perspective are incorporated into the campus master plan and its responsiveness to your specific needs.

Developing an “actionable” plan: Rather than creating yet another master plan that collects dust on a shelf, you want to generate a document to guide your decisions in both your short- and long-term planning. A successful master plan identifies specific steps and guidelines to meet your project goals. A comprehensive plan will provide direction for a continually evolving compilation of data, including considerations such as:

•  Educational planning
•  Facility and site assessment
•  Demographics analysis
•  Educational capacity analysis.

Just as these variables are continually evolving, so too must your master plan. It is critical to look at each of these assessments through the lens of both current usage, as well as anticipation of future usage, trends, and educational expectations.

By integrating these three key components into your next campus master plan, both microscopic and macroscopic viewpoints will be addressed. Short- and long-term goals will be established, and a plan with specific action steps will be developed to write the next chapter in your campus’ story.