The Daily Nebraskan took a look at various services at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to see which ones are ready for 30,000 students or plan to be by 2020.
UNIVERSITY HEALTH CENTER
About 36 percent of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students use the main University Health Center clinic 1.6 times per year, according to the center’s records. With an enrollment of 30,000, Director Dr. James Guest said he would anticipate 17,280 visits, a 21 percent increase from 2012-2013.
If most of the increase comes from out-of-state students, use may be higher as those students do not have a local primary care provider.
The health center currently has six medical providers during the academic year and four during the summer. A provider without other duties can see between 2,500 and 3,000 patients a year, so to accommodate an additional 5,000 students, the health center would need to hire at least one more provider.
“If we’re up to 30,000, we could probably handle it in the same building with some rearranging of the way we provide services,” said UHC Director Dr. James Guest.
In the short term, Guest said it would be more beneficial to remodel the current health center, which was built in 1957, than to build a new one because student fees would be less effected. So right now, health center officials are looking at possibly rewiring internal computer networking and Internet cables. Guest said a facilities needs assessment would also be necessary to figure out what other aspects of the building need to be renovated to better serve the staff and patients.
The CAPS program is something that will need to change, especially if the university were to increase by 5,000 students.
“We’re totally out of (space for Counseling and Psychological Services) and don’t have room for anyone else, yet the need will appear.”
And Guest is right – according to center records, the need will appear. In 2012-2013, CAPS received 10,891 visits from students. If enrollment increased to 30,000, the number of visits to CAPS would increase to 12,600 when using the 5 percent increase it’s had during the past five years.
“We’re very pushed right now on psychiatric needs to we would bump that up first,” Guest said.
The department has 14 staff members, including nine Ph.D. psychologists, three counselors, a full-time advanced nurse practitioner in psychiatry and a half-time psychiatrist, and only the nurse practitioner and psychiatrist can prescribe medicine to patients. Guest said the health center would need to hire two or three more clinicians to CAPS to meet patient needs.
On paper, UNL has enough recreation facility space to accommodate for 30,000 students, said Christopher Dulak, assistant director for marketing and development at Campus Recreation. But Dulak said the department needs to address a few issues to prepare for an enrollment increase.
A 2009 study by Brailsford and Dunlavey found that college rec centers should offer at least 10 square feet of indoor facilities for each enrolled student, meaning UNL should have at least 300,000 square feet in recreation facilities. The City Campus Rec Center alone has 229,722 square feet, the Outdoor Adventures Center will have 12,453 square feet when it’s completed in May and the East Rec Center will have 58,125 square feet when it’s completed in spring 2015. Additional indoor spaces like the Mabel Lee Hall gyms and pool and the Military and Naval Sciences Building add an additional 35,691 square feet.
But these numbers can be misleading because capacity of recreation facilities can’t be measured like classroom capacity, Dulak said. For example, the Coliseum seats 5,000 people for events but holds only 16 players for an intramural basketball game. And 84 percent of UNL students use campus recreation spaces, which is higher than the national average of 60 to 70 percent, Dulak said. Rec center use has increased over the years, reaching 644,382 visits in 2012-2013. Facilities continue to be overcrowded from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily but are under-used during the morning hours, Dulak said.
PARKING AND TRANSIT SERVICES
With a total of 15,814 parking spaces, UNL doesn’t have enough parking to account for 30,000 students. But the opening of the 18th & R Street Garage in August 2014 will accommodate for future growth, said Dan Carpenter, Parking and Transit Services director. An enrollment of 30,000 would also affect Transit Services, which has eight buses running on two routes between City and East campuses. With the anticipated growth, the university at some point will need to add “tripper” services, Carpenter said. These buses follow behind the buses on the StarTran schedule, providing additional capacity to serve both campuses.
University dining services
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln spends about $8 million a year to offer food to students who are registered with a meal plan, said Pam Edwards, assistant director of UNL Dining Services. Each academic year, about 5,500 students order a meal plan.
Although Edwards said Dining Services could accommodate an enrollment of 30,000 students by 2020 with its five dining centers, she couldn’t speculate where another dining center could be added on campus if the need arose. She also said she’s unsure what the cost of offering food to students would be to the university or its students in six years.
“I really don’t know right now,” Edwards said. “We could do it, but it’d be a challenge.”
The UNL Master Plan, prepared by planning and design firm Sasaki Associates last year, says that a proposed dining hall and recreational facility could replace CPN Dining Hall. It would be designed so that the 17th Street entrance connects to an outdoor dining plaza with a series of eating options, special paving and lighting. The plan also says that the dining area in the East Campus Union could be expanded with a series of outdoor terraces.
If an increased enrollment were to bring more students to the dining halls, Edwards said Dining Services might need to reevaluate how it serves students based on demand. For example, Edwards said one option could be extending dining service hours. Most dining services open at about 6:45 a.m. and close by about 8:30 p.m.
Several buildings at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are in need of renovation, according to the UNL Master Plan. And that need will become greater if enrollment grows to 30,000 by 2020.
City Campus and East Campus have a total of about 300,000 square feet in classroom space, according to the master plan. Additionally, City Campus has about 180,000 square feet of teaching labs, while East Campus has 50,000 square feet. A qualitative review of the university’s learning spaces concluded that its classrooms and labs need updating. Buildings such as Oldfather Hall, Nebraska Hall, Burnett Hall, Westbook Music Building and Henzlik Hall are examples of dated buildings that could use new design concepts to meet the needs of students and educators today, the plan said.
Examples of what could match today’s teaching and learning styles, according to the include: flexible furniture and spaces that enhance group learning and collaboration, updated flooring finishes, better lighting and more technology.