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Three draft options presented for comment at UND master plan forum

GRAND FORKS -- A lot of work has to be done in a short amount of time for the University of North Dakota to finalize a the first phase of a master plan.

GRAND FORKS -- A lot of work has to be done in a short amount of time for the University of North Dakota to finalize a the first phase of a master plan.

Dave Chakroborty, the UND associate vice president for Facilities Management, presented three potential plans to a group of about 100 UND faculty, staff and administrators at a forum Friday. He noted the plans are just preliminary and the campus community is encouraged to provide feedback online.

The plans revolve around repurposing the School of Medicine and Health Science when it is vacated and moved to its four-story building at Gateway Drive and Columbia Road in Grand Forks.

Chakroborty said the look and feel of classrooms are also very important as they look at ways to improve.

"The quality of space has a direct impact on the academic success of a student," he said.

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One plan would move administration from Twamley Hall to the old Medicine School, while fragmented programs and departments, like Arts and Sciences, would then be moved to Twamley Hall. This plan would require two major moves and would affect 20 buildings, 15 of which would be vacated with the ability to repurpose them in the future. This change would save $1.2 million in annual operating and maintenance costs.

The second plan is similar in that it would move various spread-out departments and programs into the old Medicine School building, which would retain some lab and classroom space. It would save the school $1 million in annual maintenance, relocate programs outside the core area of campus and affect 19 buildings, 12 of which would be vacated for future repurposing.

The third plan requires more building. Some programs would be temporarily relocated to the old Medicine School while additions and renovations take place in the buildings surrounding an area known as the quad; Witmer, Gillette and Kelly halls would either be renovated or connected with new buildings, creating one large loop from Leonard Hall to the Education Building.

This plan would affect 19 buildings, 13 of which would be vacated with the possibility of repurposing them in the future, saving $2.2 million in annual maintenance.

Chakroborty said this plan would ultimately end in closing the old Medicine School building, though that would be far in the future.

Gary Hay of Hay-Dobbs P.A., an architecture firm working with UND on the plan, said the three plans are based on enrollment averages staying near 15,000. Chakroborty said the school's Facilities and Administration rate will be considered, which is a mechanism used to reimburse a school for infrastructure support costs.

Some in the audience said they were concerned research space was not being considered in this master planning process, but Chakroborty said it was currently impossible to widen the scope of the project given the time crunch, as the plan is due to the North Dakota Board of Higher Education Feb. 15.

"We cannot answer all of the questions, we cannot tackle all of the problems that we have and we are only going to look at some," he said. "We are going to collect the data, analyze the data, have it ready for a campuswide discussion over the next year and get it ready for the next president when he or she will join us in the summer of 2016."

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UND has about 3.1 million square feet of space that is used for academia and academic support, and this study only addresses about 2.5 million square feet of that space. A total of 36 buildings are being studied.

UND's classroom space use, which was calculated based on the average number of students enrolled and the number of seats available in a given room, is lower than the targets set by the SBHE.

Dobbs said classrooms at UND have a 53 percent utilization rate, while the SBHE's target is 75 percent. Lab utilization sits at 31 percent, lower than the board's target of 56 percent. Overall utilization of seats is 60 percent, lower than the 75 percent target.

The master plan is a first step in a more comprehensive planning process, Chakroborty said, as this phase doesn't include program-driven needs, research space, auxiliary buildings and infrastructure needs.

According to a November study cited by Chakroborty, about $45 million of UND's $270 million deferred-maintenance needs are critical. He specifically pointed to the school's boilers, which are about 60 years old.

Chakroborty said he knew the state Legislature likely would not fund all of repairs estimated over the next decade, which total about $450 million, so the master plan was a way of working within limits.

"Let's be realistic ... so the dollars that come to campus can be better used and so that we can focus the limited amount of dollars we have on a more optimized space," he said.

The next master plan forum will be at 3 p.m., Jan. 13, and detailed information along with feedback forms can be accessed online at bit.ly/1NSUGE0.

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