Submitted by Debbie Malone, VAL Committee member: This blog post is the second in a series of posts discussing the library value work being done by the ACRL Liaisons to non-library higher education organizations. We welcome Dr. Danuta Nitecki, Drexel University, who is our liaison to the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)
Thinking holistically about higher education, facilitating conversations across different perspectives, fostering learning environments, transforming organizations, stimulating professional growth, communicating new knowledge through publications and online conversations. Librarians share these perspectives and ambitions with the diverse professionals in and around higher education who are attracted to the Society for College and University Planning [SCUP].
Since 2012, I have had the pleasure of serving as the ACRL liaison to SCUP. SCUP is “a community that provides its members with the knowledge and resources to establish and achieve institutional planning goals within the context of best practices and emerging trends.” A good overview of its focus and benefits of membership is found in the SCUP Member Resource Guide, January 2014. Its membership numbers over 5,000 and attracts professionals from both on and off campus, with responsibilities ranging from administration to finance, academics to student services, institutional research to facilities. It is unique among higher education associations in that “members include leaders from colleges and universities, government agencies, nonprofits and firms that support higher education.”
I now have attended two SCUP national (and one of its regional) annual conferences. They were very well organized with informative presentations, plenty of audience engagement, and several “networking” opportunities. The last annual conference [in San Diego] was typical in attracting over 1500 attendees, including not only higher education administrators, managers, and faculty, but also numerous professionals from such fields as architecture, construction, consulting, planning, and from all types of colleges and universities, non-profits and municipal government.
My first SCUP conference, held in Chicago, was very welcoming with an informative “new member” orientation and recognition during some other sessions, and attendees showing interest about libraries when they met me. In addition the regional conference I attended in DC was smaller but equally rich in the numerous opportunities and broad range of venues for people to come together, to learn, exchange ideas and generate knowledge—the cited SCUP objectives. Regions are grouped as Mid-Atlantic, North Atlantic, North Central, Pacific, and Southern. Though often focusing on a regional perspective, participants come from across the country and from some of the 30 countries where members reside.
Librarians will also find SCUP publications useful. The association’s peer reviewed journal is Planning for Higher Education and includes insights on planning trends. Manuscripts for articles, viewpoints and book reviews are welcome. A daily online magazine, SCUP Links, shares contributed links that help form the SUCP environmental scan. SCUP also publishes books, including its Report on Trends in Higher Education Planning that librarians will find insightful. By invitation, I joined more than 90 SCUP members to review conference session proposals. An added bonus was to also participate in the process to identify trends. A listing of trend areas and description of the process to identify trends are summarized at http://www.scup.org/page/resources/books/rotihep2013.
Another venue for exchange of ideas is the Multilevel Online Journal Odyssey [MOJO], a virtual community with quarterly themes that is open to SCUP members and nonmembers alike. The MOJO focus at the time of writing this review is “learning environments” and includes a report of design and research about the model Design Lab, part of the University of Michigan Library’s Digital Media Commons: “Observations from an Open, Connected, and Evolving, Learning Environment”, authored by A. Matthew Barritt and Linda Knox, learning design librarian at the University of Michigan.
I urge anyone interested in facilities planning, developing planning skills, or meeting other professionals tackling the variety of issues facing higher education, to attend a SCUP conference. Only one or two presentations at the annual conferences had “library” in the title, and the most popular one drew over 100 attendees to hear a group of architects and campus planners discuss changes in library design. It was great seeing librarians attend—more came and presented at the regional conference but represented a small proportion of the attendees at either venue. At least four sessions will include library topics during the upcoming Mid Atlantic Regional conference in Philadelphia later this month, March 23-25.
Finally, a competition that will interest some librarians is the Perry Chapman Prize. Begun in 2012, the Perry Chapman Prize, supported by the Hideo Sasaki Foundation, will award $10,000 annually through 2016 to fund “research, development, and dissemination of emerging knowledge to improve campus environments in support of their institution’s mission.” I recommend the published report produced by the first award recipients: “Research on Learning Space Design: Present State, Future Directions” by Susan Painter, Janice Fournier, Caryn Grape, Phyllis Grummon, Jill Morelli, Susan Whitmer, and Joseph Cevetello. It is a comprehensive literature review conducted by researchers, campus planners and architects that recognizes the early stages of investigation about elements contributing to designing learning environments. I attended a workshop conducted by those authors from University of Washington about related research methods and found similarity to library assessment programs and conversations.
I look forward to the results of the 2013 prize award, expected to be published in July 2014. Jos Boys of Northumbria University, UK and Clare Melhuish from the Open University, UK, submitted the proposal “Developing research methods for analyzing learning spaces that can inform institutional missions of learning and engagement,”
Proposals for the 2014 prize are now being accepted with a deadline of May 31, 2014. See: http://www.scup.org/page/resources/perry-chapman-prize
The SCUP connection reinforces the librarian’s role as a professional within higher education. We can learn from engagement with the campus planners and architects for whom SCUP is their professional association. Publications, online newsletters, and conferences provide familiar venues to exchange ideas, develop new insights and disseminate knowledge. What is better suited to the academic librarian? In turn how might we contribute to these colleagues’ efforts to develop integrated planning practices and conduct research to plan transformation of higher education? In what ways might the two associations — ACRL and SCUP—provide mutual benefit from intentional collaborations?
I invite your comments and especially welcome feedback on whether relationships between SCUP and libraries are beneficial to continue and if so, how might they be strengthened. What more would you like to know? What about libraries might we share with SCUP and how to best promote our perspective and expertise?
Please don’t hesitate to send suggestions or reactions to me as the current liaison to SCUP: Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, Drexel University at firstname.lastname@example.org.