New campus planning committee names prof faculty chairman

Janette Neuwahl

A newly created committee designed to keep Northwestern’s campuses beautiful is finally taking shape.

Established by University President Henry Bienen, the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee named McCormick Prof. Charles Dowding as its faculty chairman late last week.

The committee was created last Spring Quarter following student complaints about a lack of input in campus construction projects — complaints that reached a peak last winter when NU announced plans fill one-fifth of the Lagoon for development.

Dowding, who specializes in civil and environmental engineering, is the only confirmed committee member, said Marilyn McCoy, vice president of administration and planning.

“We are going to consider a broad range of issues that relate to space planning and we’ll be considering all sorts of possibilities for the future,” said Dowding, a McCormick professor of 35 years. “Northwestern has been here for 150 years, and we need to plan for the next 150 years.”

Associated Student Government proposed plans to include students on the Board of Trustees, which makes the final decisions on development plans. Instead administrators started the planning committee, which will work with the administrators who meet with the trustees.

“This is a mechanism to get universitywide input on development,” said Ronald Nayler, vice president of facilities management. “The committee will decide whether this should be an ongoing mechanism for input on faculty and space planning issues.”

The committee will comprise five students — three undergraduate and two graduate students — five faculty members, three staff members, Nayler and Jean Schedd, associate provost for budget facilities and analysis.

Over the summer, Bienen and Nayler generated priorities for the committee. Members first will be asked to review past construction at NU and then create a vision and values to guide future development for construction on both NU campuses, Nayler said.

Dowding said the group will “create a mechanism for universitywide discussion and input on campus space planning issues.”

During Spring Quarter, Bienen asked ASG and each school to nominate students to serve on the committee, said McCoy, who is organizing the committee.

Despite a lack of student interest, possibly because the committee is a two-year requirement, ASG President Rachel Lopez said she nominated nine students last spring.

Combined with the schools’ recommendations, McCoy said about 35 students were reviewed for membership by Bienen.

But many nominated students still are unsure about their status concerning the committee.

Medill junior Evan North, one of Lopez’s nominees, has yet to hear anything since leaving campus last summer. North said he was interested in joining the committee after his involvement with the Northwestern Open Campus Coalition.

“The interests of NOCC and the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee are in the same vein, so being a member was something of interest to me,” North said. “But I haven’t heard about how they are going forward from this point.”

Lopez said she hopes the student members will work with ASG to represent students’ opinions on development matters.

“(This committee) shows students are not just four-year customers but they invest in long range decisions,” said Lopez, a Weinberg senior. “Student input is valuable to the university so that they can see how future alumni will react to where the university is going and how their plans affect student life, which is one of the most important points in student admissions.”