Shepherd Seeks Master Plan to Improve University

The future look of the Shepherd University campus was open for discussion by students, faculty and members of the Shepherdstown community over four forums held during the first week of classes on campus.

The Master Plan Committee, in charge of developing a 10-year Master Plan, hosted the forums as an opportunity to share ideas regarding the university’s development. Suggestions would later be discussed by the committee and possibly incorporated into the 10-year Master Plan. The plan would then be presented to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) by June 30, 2013 for review.

Suggestions to improve parking, getting around campus and accessibility were just some of the topics covered in the forums.

An email blast went out a week before classes began requesting participation at the one of the four meetings. Shepherd forums of this nature in the past separated the forums with one session for the community, one for students, and one for faculty. The committee decided to take a different approach and allow for all parties to attend the forum most convenient to them.

Dr. John Sherwood, chairman of the Facilities Master Plan Committee stated that idea was to hear from as much of the community as possible. Allowing the community to have a voice in this matter is a way of creating an environment of stewardship and builds better relationships, according to Sherwood.

Sherwood stressed that the main objective in their planning is for Shepherd to be “better, not bigger.”

Building on this concept is to make better use of existing space and preventing some of the problems that may come when a university grows too large. Sherwood offered the Erma Ora Byrd Hall as an example that has the potential to be a better social space for students but perhaps has not been fully utilized.

Sherwood also mentioned making the campus more visitor-friendly. He pondered, “Where is the front door of the campus?” and remarked that other universities have structures that mark the beginning of the university.

Another objective is to make the school more pedestrian and bike-friendly. Sherwood said that the tunnel is just the beginning of realizing that concept. Among the suggestions was to include covered bike parking to avoid wet seats for riders in inclement weather.

Chris Dunphy, a junior historic preservation major, lives in the area and bikes to the campus every day. He “definitely [believes the] covered racks” sound the most promising. Dunphy said he knew of only one area that has covered bike racks and that sometimes students must arrive early to get a spot.

One perpetual concern for students is the state of parking on campus. Sherwood mentioned that several parties raised concerns, and it is a subject they will be addressing. A traffic study was completed to monitor the flow of traffic on campus last week. The results of that study will be incorporated into the plan.

Another focus is to increase the percentage of students living on campus from about 30 percent to between 40-50 percent over the next 10 years.

Sherwood stated, “So much goes on on campus.”

Commuters tend to miss out on activities, Sherwood added. The hope is to increase the sense of community on campus. One of the ways to do that is if students are physically here more.

Sherwood expressed that everyone attending the forum was positive and gave great suggestions. The forums have been useful feedback in the process developing Shepherd’s future.

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