Thursday, March 17, 2011
Visitor Experience Group:
- David Todd, Director of Physical Plant
- Patrice Mitchell, Dean of Admissions
- Sophia Ungert, Development
- Debbie Griffith, Director of Communication and Marketing
- Debra Liles, Human Resources
- Ann Martin, Assistant Director Alumni and University Events
- Holly Beveridge, Director of Cultural Events
- Kevan Frazier, Director, Alumni and University Events
- Scott Walters, Associate Professor, Drama
Working Group listeners:
- Christine Riley, Chief of Staff
- Don Gordon, Director of Design and Construction
- Gregg Kormanik, Chair of Biology and Professor
1. Lack of signage for buildings is an issue. Directing visitors/guests to particular buildings is problematic, people end up using costly temporary signs.
2. No true main entrance for the University.
3. Aesthetics needs to be a focus. When you come onto campus all you see is the back side of cars.
4. Buildings styles are out of date, and there are too many different styles of buildings on campus.
5. The “Bermuda Triangle” (the odd intersection at the top of the hill, past the roundabout) needs signage. Visitors don’t know where to go. The group talked of a permanent marquis that current information could be placed into and switched out as needed.
6. The three most-sought locations on campus; HR, Admissions and Alumni, are arguably the hardest locations to find.
7. Need more and better kiosks with updated maps. Perhaps a more permanent visitor “hut” with parking where visitors could get “you are here” information and more.
8. Better signage for where to obtain parking permits. Current situation is not visitor-friendly.
9. Phillips Hall has no elevator and storage issues.
10. The pathways, stairs, etc. need a facelift. Landscaping looks terrific, but hardscapes are in disrepair. Brick or cobblestone paths would make a huge difference for the overall look of the campus.
11. Owen Hall has no obvious entrance (or exit), and the surrounding art “graveyard” has toppled pieces which are a safety hazard.
12. Smaller to medium repairs would make a huge improvement across campus.
13. Belk Theater guests end up entering through the loading dock.
14. Art programs are inherently messy and none of the programs are housed properly. Drama department welders work next to flammable wood cuttings. Buildings where fabrics are dyed have no hot water. Music department is housed in the basement. Everything has been jimmied together not thoughtfully planned.
15. There’s an inadequate R&R funding stream. Any planning needs to include maintenance and replacement costs. There is a backlog of current maintenance. Spending plan needs to be carefully considered and designed.
16. All of the entrances need better signage, not just the main entrance.
17. Kiosks are on the wrong side of the road for vehicular visitors.
18. Lighting issues for evening classes is a safety hazard. Students have to cross roads with inadequate lighting.
19. Perception that Highsmith is for on-campus students only. Off-campus students have no place for them between classes.
20. Perception of campus for prospective students. We’re putting lipstick on a pig. The location for One Stop was a temporary solution. We’ve done the best we can do with the space. Need to consider relocating people to use our current spaces better.
21. At maximum space capacity in the dining hall during peak times. It’s limiting the number of off-campus groups we can entertain.
22. Student perception of Phillips Hall, center of campus, but not for them.
23. There is talk of more speed bumps for University Heights to slow down traffic.
24. Need to figure out if we’re going to move to a more pedestrian-friendly set-up before we spend more money on fixing our current roads.
Additional thoughts/suggestions submitted via email:
Lipinsky Hall/Auditorium is one of the most public and highly visible areas of campus for visiting parents, community members, current and prospective students, and local community school students. In addition to the problems with the exterior grounds mentioned today, the auditorium has 1970s orange seats, many of which are broken and have brown paint chipping off the backs. (I have heard there are other significant issues with the auditorium, although I would not be the best person to speak to that issue.) The lobby sports 1980s teal and burgundy with stained carpet and worn furniture. The bathrooms are pretty unwelcoming (a la the old Phillips Hall 2nd floor "ladies" room). I know plans to update are on hold due to the budget situation, but I just wanted to make sure LH was on the master planning radar because for many visitors, it is their first impression of campus.
Speaking of bathrooms... with conferences, we always say that people go away happy if the food is good and the bathrooms are nice. A thought of mine is that, even in times when funds aren't available to repair/renovate an entire building, putting a little money into sprucing up the bathrooms can go a long way in enhancing the visitor experience, as that is often the first thing they are looking for. I have to admit that I tend to make judgments on businesses and schools, and even homes, based on the quality of their bathrooms. And I've noticed that many of our bathrooms on campus, especially in the academic buildings, are looking quite bad.
More on signage: People also make judgments about establishments, institutions and even cities based on the aesthetic quality of their signage. While our exterior campus signage has a "classic" look, I believe most of our existing signs were in place before I enrolled as a student in 1993. An investment in some updated signage might be a really good bang for the buck in improving the first impressions of our campus. (The new Asheville/Buncombe directional signs were a nice improvement to Asheville's first impression, if you ignore that seemingly endless period when all the faces were peeling off.)
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