WSU Vancouver’s 2018 Master Plan update builds on the past to prepare for the future.
A university’s Master Plan establishes a vision for its physical assets. It takes into consideration the present and future needs of the campus in terms of learning, research, living and recreation.
A Master Plan is written with flexibility and adaptability in mind. Universities are dynamic places, and the needs of their communities change over time. A good Master Plan is written in such a way that the general strategies documented will remain valid as projects develop.
“Master Plans guide campus development over the long term—in many cases decades—and serve as a foundational document mindful of past, current and future development,” said Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Lynn Valenter, who led WSU Vancouver’s Master Plan update effort.
The original Master Plan for WSU Vancouver was published in 1992, four years before the Salmon Creek campus opened. The plan was updated in 2007. Today WSU Vancouver is on the verge of publishing its second Master Plan update. The 2018 update is grounded by WSU Vancouver’s mission, vision and strategic plan—which together guide everything the university does.
“From the start of this process, I’ve been impressed with how faithful we have been to the vision of our founders,” said Chancellor Mel Netzhammer. “The values they held to are the values we hold dear today. This update to the Master Plan ensures that vision continues, while recognizing the growth and development that is clearly going to come.” WSU Vancouver was founded to serve Southwest Washington’s needs for higher education. Valenter said the Master Plan Committee relied on original documents, including the founding legislation, to build upon and refine that purpose.
WSU Vancouver sought input on this latest update from a wide variety of stakeholders over the last year. Valenter said listening to a variety of hopes for the future helped the committee understand the many roles of the campus. Three public forums on campus gave the public ample opportunity to comment. Faculty, staff, students, neighbors and friends of the university left dozens of written comments.
The comments indicate that stakeholders value the beautiful, well-maintained campus, its views and walking trails. They asked WSU Vancouver to continue to share campus events and spaces, and maintain open communication. The idea of building a longhouse to acknowledge Chinook and Cowlitz communities past and present came up.
The biggest changes in WSU Vancouver's 2018 Master Plan include:
- The addition of undergraduate student housing (a residence hall), in a student- life area at the south end of campus that would also include a new student union and fitness center.
- The addition of an outdoor playing field.
- Siting of the anticipated Life Sciences Building that was envisioned in the 2007 plan (predesign of that building was recently funded by the Washington State Legislature).
Updating the Master Plan is only step one in the journey to undergraduate student housing. The next step is to seek a change to a University District zoning designation from Clark County.
Adding student housing will allow WSU Vancouver to recruit students from farther away, and contribute to supporting WSU Vancouver’s Strategic Plan, Goal 3: Growth. It would also likely improve student retention. The university aspires to serve 5,000 students within the next several years. Student housing makes that goal more feasible. If you would like to learn more about WSU Vancouver's 2018 Master Plan, go to vancouver.wsu.edu and type “master plan” in the search bar. ■