Framework for growth introduced

As UC Davis expands its campus over the next decade, leaders say they will work hard to maintain the sense of community and the high academic standards that have characterized the university over the years.

That was the message that top campus officials delivered Tuesday during a forum on university growth, "Building Places, Connecting People," hosted by Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef.

Over the next decade, UC Davis expects to receive an influx of about 5,000 additional students and more than 200 faculty members. The campus will grow academically and physically with the development of the Graduate School of the Environment and the School of Education and the construction of $750 million worth of building projects currently in the works.

"It's not necessarily true that we just get bigger," Vanderhoef said. "If we do it right, we get bigger and better."

The campus, he said, will be guided by distinct principles in its growth: providing adequate space to support the university's academic plan; promoting environmental stewardship; and offering an "inviting front door" to the community.

The university already has the backbone of an academic plan to guide its growth, said Provost Robert Grey. The recently released Capstone Report calls for the expansion of schools across the campus and the development of nine interdisciplinary initiatives linking academic fields.

The physical planning component to the Capstone Report, a revised Long Range Development Plan, won't be sent to the UC Regents until 2003. However, many state-of-the-art teaching and research spaces the plan calls for are already in the works and included in LRDP, said Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning John Meyer.

"The pressures of growth aren't going to allow us to wait to complete a plan in two years," he said. "(The pressure) is here now."

For example, plans for two new surge buildings - one for the physical sciences and another combining administrative and academic offices - will be sent to the UC regents for approval later this year, he said.

Other buildings like the Plant and Environmental Sciences Building on the north side of campus will also soon be completed. Six new buildings are planned for the fast-growing Health Sciences District on the west side of campus.

  • new Long Range Development Plan -- last revised in 1994 - will not only take into consideration the need for new facilities, but also how the university community connects to them. Campus planners are studying a creating new system of bike and pedestrian paths to keep students, staff and faculty moving easily between buildings and across campus.

The planners also want to keep the UC Davis campus open to the city and region, carrying on a tradition founded in the development of the earliest American universities, said Director of Physical Planning Bob Segar.

"We want to keep open edges so that we don't get walled off symbolically or physically from the community," he said.

For instance, during expansion the campus expects to retain the north edge of campus bordering Russell Boulevard as open playing fields. The university will also develop the campus' southern entryway, Segar said. Over the next decade, as the Center for the Arts is completed and a new visual arts center is constructed near the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, the university will provide a more visible front to travelers along Highway 113 and Interstate 80.

The long-range plan will also tackle student, faculty and staff housing scenarios. For environmental as well as academic reasons, the university wants to maintain a character of "adjacency," with the campus located close to housing, Segar said. UC Davis has established a study zone including the Hamel Ranch area southeast of campus to explore creating a university residential community. Much of the area is now used for ag and environmental research.

Planners used the 2000-2001 academic year to set the table for discussing growth, Segar said. They and members of the development plan's advisory committee will get down to the nitty-gritty of the land planning process during the next academic year.

Throughout the process, members of the university community will be called on to offer their input, Vanderhoef said. "We are not under the illusion that building a building creates community, that happens through the efforts of people," he said.

The public is invited as growth is again discussed at the May 31 meeting of the Long Range Development Plan Advisory Committee. The meeting is set for 4 to 6 p.m. in MU II.

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