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Community input sought for launch of Emory's new master plan

Emory’s new Campus Life Center will become a central community hub when it opens in summer 2019. Four town halls this week will seek insight from faculty, staff and students to help guide future facilities and digital investments.

As Emory starts creating a new master plan, university and health care community members are encouraged to join in the process, which will help provide a roadmap to plan for the university’s future facilities and digital investments.

On Tuesday morning, Christopher Augostini, executive vice president for business and administration, sent an email inviting faculty, students and staff at all Emory University and Emory Healthcare sites to “provide input into a shared vision for the facilities and digital investments we will make in the future.” Augostini encouraged the community to participate in a survey to help identify planning priorities for all of Emory’s campuses and Emory Healthcare properties and facilities.

Scheduled to be completed next year, the master plan is intended to support the goals and strategic initiatives within Emory’s recently announced strategic framework, “One Emory: Engaged for Impact,” which will help guide Emory in areas of academic, research and scholarly advancement, says Robin Morey, vice president of planning, who will lead the master planning effort. 

“If the strategic framework outlines our vision and ambitions for the future, the master plan helps answer the question, ‘How do we make this a reality?’” Morey says. “We hope to dig deep within all constituencies of the university to help us prioritize where we should make our physical investments. It’s really an important opportunity for the community to have its say.” 

The plan will serve as a flexible guide for future development, focusing on the university’s needs over the next 30 years — envisioning how the campus should feel and function and helping guide Emory’s academic mission and strategic vision through a data-driven approach.

Emory’s new master plan will also play a crucial role in helping to identify and elevate opportunities for philanthropy, while creating a pathway to a future fundraising campaign, he notes.

Those who complete the survey will be entered to win prizes including 10 iPads and 20 Visa gift cards worth $25 each.

In addition to the survey, four community town halls will be held this week seeking public input: 

  • Oxford Campus
    Wednesday, Sept. 26, noon, Oxford College, Dean’s Dining Room (light lunch provided)
  • Atlanta Campus
    Thursday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m., White Hall, Room 208 (snacks provided)
    Thursday, Sept. 27, 4 p.m., White Hall, Room 208 (snacks provided)
    Friday, Sept. 28, 9 a.m., Cox Hall Ballroom (light breakfast provided)

Shaping Emory’s future

Should Emory invest in creating a new innovation space? Develop more student housing to enhance campus engagement? Create a faculty club to facilitate academic collaboration?

The information-gathering phase of the planning process seeks a broad spectrum of ideas from stakeholders across campus, Morey notes.

“If you care deeply about one thing, you could probably log that into the online survey in just a few minutes,” he explains. “Or you might simply identify where you like to hang out on campus and study, which would help us consider pathways across campus and what corners of campus are being best utilized. 

“We really can use everyone’s feedback,” he says. “Through the survey and our town halls, all that information will be taken in to help us consider our physical assets moving forward.” 

The initial information-gathering phase of the master plan will rely heavily upon community engagement and feedback, Morey says, adding that campus participation will be vital.

“It’s a lot like voting — everyone should be encouraged to have their say and give their input,” Morey says. “This is a living plan that will be used to help prioritize our larger investments.”

Community responses will be gathered and forwarded to Emory President Claire E. Sterk and the university’s leadership team to help make informed decisions about future investments that are best suited to supporting the new strategic framework, he says.

To have a voice in that process presents an important opportunity for every school, division and individual across campus, says Elizabeth Downes, Betty Tigner Turner Clinical Professor and chair of the MSN program in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

“As a faculty member — as well as a citizen of Decatur and metro Atlanta — I think planning is essential,” Downes says. “There are benefits to this kind of long-term planning that can take into account both the broader community and individual students.” 

And she credits Emory with responding to its future needs with “a thoughtful approach, with community and faculty participation to consider the best ways to move and grow into the coming years and how to define our place here in Atlanta.” 

“As a professional school, we certainly plan for our students and our growth,” she adds. “But our building is on the edge of campus, and it’s important to think about how we maintain a vibrant relationship with the rest of campus, preparing our students and nurses to be clinically relevant, skilled participants in the health care system.”

“I really appreciate the effort to reach out to us, the chance to be heard,” says Downes.

Make your voice heard

As the president of Emory’s Latino Student Organization, Ericka Canon, an Emory College junior majoring in Spanish and linguistics, has worked with campus administrators on key issues that are important to her student peers, such as recruiting more faculty of color. 

Within the master plan process, she sees as an opportunity to bring the larger community into conversation about those ideas. “As a future alum, I would love to come back and say, ‘Wow, this is an amazing change’ — to see another Latino student come in and find what we’ve been working toward.” 

“We want our voices to be heard,” she adds. “And we should take advantage of this moment in Emory’s history and advocate for what we care about.”

Emory College senior Maddy Zapata, an interdisciplinary studies major on the pre-med track, learned about the master planning process through her work as president of Emory’s Panhellenic Council and as a senior resident adviser for Emory’s Division of Campus Life. 

“I think about the investment that is being put into our new Campus Life Center, and I see how that really is going to give back to the students and the community, helping Emory to feel like a home,” Zapata says. “And I know that students have other ideas about how to achieve that, too.”

On the master plan survey, Zapata plans to address issues including expanded campus housing options and investing in supporting the second-year undergraduate experience. 

“As student advisers, we always talk about how important it is to be at the table and listening to everyone,” she says. “I like the idea that they want to hear all our voices, to listen to us and really make it a priority to see student concerns addressed.” 

For more information on the master planning process and a schedule of upcoming campus events, visit here. To access the survey, visit here.

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