Space Study Task Force (2013)

In 2013, at the request of the Provost, a multi-disciplinary Space Task Force was formed. The task force was directed to:

  • recommend improvements to standards, practices, and processes affecting all Rice-owned spaces
  • benchmark peer institutions to determine standards, decision processes, and best practices
  • develop strategic approaches and processes to improve the use of existing space and to increase Rice’s ability to leverage space opportunities as they arise

To benchmark, the task force considered the best practices at a number of peer institutions, including Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Michigan, Notre Dame, MIT and USC.

It was noted that each institution explicitly states that the President or Provost owns all space, with the Registrar managing instructional space and departments scheduling instructional labs. A majority of these schools have specific usage rate goals for general purpose classrooms based on a percentage of available daytime hours. Schools consistently struggle with significantly below average room use in two areas - non-peak hours and departmentally controlled instructional areas. To increase utilization of instructional space, universities use different tactics, including limiting the number of classes that departments can schedule between 10am and 2pm and allocating room maintenance expenses to incentivize departments to convert space to Registrar control.

Among the Space Task Force’s recommendations to the Provost are the following:

  • The Provost administers all space owned or leased by Rice.
  • The Provost delegates full responsibility for management of instructional spaces to the Registrar.
  • Space is assigned to activities not individuals, and it may be reassigned as activities change.
  • Space assignments are not permanent. Space that is vacant or deemed underutilized is subject to reassignment or repurposing.
  • A University Space Committee should be established to review high level space policies, standards, practices, and issues.
  • All space decisions should be made within the context of the strategic, financial, and campus master plans, and include a periodic review of the highest and best use of space.
  • Priority in space allocation will be given to:
    • Meeting a strategic need or programmatic goal
    • Collaborative, shared, or multi-use spaces
    • Improving efficiency or productivity
    • Establishing/maintaining an inventory of “swing space” to meet emerging needs
    • Limiting use of rental space
    • Practices that support the Facilities and Administrative rate negotiations with the federal government
  • Responsibilities
    • The Provost
      • Owns and administers all space
      • Approves space management principles, policies, and standards
      • Annually reviews space allocation on campus
    • Registrar
      • Manages and schedules all instructional classroom spaces
    • University Space Committee
      • Should be created as a conversion of the University Space Committee
      • Should be established as a standing university committee that advises the Provost
      • Should meet three times annually to review space standards, practices, policies, and case studies; to examine long-range space-planning issues; and to review space utilization reports

This classroom-related content can be found in several areas within the Space Task Force report, primarily on pages 19-20. The complete Space Task Force report can be found here.