On behalf of the Provost’s General University Classroom committee, I would like to provide some information about the Pullman campus general university classrooms and planning efforts. At the state level, policy makers continue to be very interested in how well space is used and because campus real estate is always in high demand, the work of the 14-member classroom committee remains critical. The broad committee membership includes, for example, faculty members, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and staff from the registrar’s office, academic media services and facilities.
Planning and Projects: In planning, committee members consider factors like enrollment level fluctuations and future forecasts, competing space demands, the need for different sizes, locations and types of teaching spaces and technologies and alignment with the university’s strategic direction. There exist 125 general classrooms on the Pullman campus. Recent projects include the renewal of classrooms in Murrow, Webster and Thompson Halls. Minor renewals complete by fall 2015 include university classrooms in Smith Gym, Heald Hall and Abelson Hall.
Monitoring Classroom Use and Availability: Committee members increased their normal reviews of classroom use patterns when the larger freshman class arrived in fall of 2011. Since then, Pullman campus enrollment has held steady and statistics show that classroom availability and use has not changed dramatically (with some exceptions). University classrooms are slightly fuller and rooms are scheduled more often than they were before 2011. The largest auditoria for lower division courses are in the highest demand while use of mid-sized and smaller classrooms remains constant. Most classrooms are not completely full and, on average, scheduling timeslots remain open at the less popular hours of 8:00 a.m., noon and after 3:00 p.m. Although most lectures are scheduled in the 125 general use classrooms, colleges also use departmental classrooms and other spaces for teaching groups of 50 or less. This is particularly true for programs that require discipline-specific equipment or materials that need to be permanently housed in the classroom.
New Focus and New Construction: Near and long-term committee planning efforts include a new focus on the potential for converting some classrooms into more flexible teaching spaces and the continued renewal of classroom furnishings and technology. A few committee members are also involved with planning for the construction of the new digital classroom building. This facility will increase the total classroom inventory and is being designed for modern flexible space to support non-traditional teaching methods. It will also provide space for small and large informal group work and training.
As chairperson for this university committee, I invite you to contact me or others if you have questions, ideas or information that you think might be useful to our on-going efforts. Thank you!
Deborah S. Carlson