The future looks bright for the university.
Campus planners from design firm SmithGroupJJR hosted a student-only town hall Thursday night in which they presented three alternative plans: Residential Front Door, Learning Communities, and Downtown USI. One of the three plans will be the design of the final Master Plan, a 10-year plan looking towards the university’s future, based on consensus from all areas of campus.
“It shows a lot of potential, and I’m really glad that they got to come and speak to the students and get a lot of feedback from the student’s,” junior economics and international studies major Keegan Roembke said. “I just think it’s good to see students actually caring about where USI is going in the future, and I don’t think anything but positive can come from it.”
The Residential Front Door alternative centers on adding residence halls along University Boulevard along with club and recreational fields near the entrance to campus from the Lloyd Expressway.
“I really like how they are focused on bringing the campus closer together with all the residence halls, bringing the athletic fields closer and hopefully giving students in Liberal Arts and Engineering the space they need,” Roembke said.
The alternative would remove some of the parking spaces in Lots A, B and C and commuters would have to park behind the residence halls. This plan would also incorporate a parking garage with a recreational field sitting on top.
The Learning Communities alternative focuses on bringing housing and recreation closer to the academic core of campus.
Through a system of relocated road networks, this alternative would bring athletic fields closer to the center of campus by making them easier to get to.
The Downtown USI alternative transforms University Boulevard into “Main Street” with roads branching off to other parts of campus. The plan also encourages more engagement of Reflection Lake from the Quad.
“We really want to make the lake more of an amenity on campus,” Campus Planner Lauren Leighty said.
The plan is banking on the university to hit a 15,000 enrollment mark, over a 5,000 student increase from this year’s enrollment count.
“If we have a lot of growth in enrollment, they are going to have to accommodate for all of the academics, residence, and parking,” Roembke said. “I think it would be cool if we grew by 5,000 students over the next 10 years, but it’s probably not realistic.”