The Southern University System Foundation has selected the Center for Planning Excellence to develop a strategic plan for the campus and surrounding community.
Unlike previous planning efforts at Southern, the new plan will not be just a master building plan for the campus but will include elements of housing, infrastructure and transit—components that will extend beyond the campus boundaries and into north Baton Rouge.
“We are not just developing a campus master plan, but also a larger community vision and action plan with a strong focus on implementation,” says CPEX Executive Director Camille Manning Broome. “The process is a great opportunity for those who live and work in the area to reimagine what is possible, energize local talent and entrepreneurship, and attract new investors.”
The plan builds off a 2017 master planning effort that was spearheaded by the Southern University Alumni Association and called for the development of a dozen new buildings on Southern’s Baton Rouge campus.
While those plans were a good start, they weren’t based around programming strengths and weaknesses of the university, says Southern University System President Al Harrell.
In the years since, the system foundation secured a grant from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to fund a $300,000 feasibility study that looked at which programs the university should invest in and strengthen and which it should consider transitioning away from. Based on those recommendations, the university foundation raised money from private donors to pay for the new strategic plan, which was awarded to the CPEX team last week.
The plan will cost $680,000 and is expected to take 18 months to complete.
CPEX’s planning approach will concentrate on integrating infrastructure systems, in an effort to create efficiencies and deliver multiple community benefits, Manning Broome says.
“A layered approach can include green space that provides drainage to surrounding roadways and neighborhoods, includes facilities for other modes of transportation such as walking and bicycling, and provides recreational facilities such as playgrounds and sports fields,” Manning Broome says. “This kind of comprehensive approach to integrated infrastructure systems delivers high functionality and livability for residents and businesses.”
Once the plan is completed, the university foundation will use it as the basis for its first-ever capital campaign, which will fund the projects and initiatives outlined in the plan.
Harrell recognizes it won’t happen overnight, but says the plan will enable the university foundation to prioritize and allocate funds as they become available to the projects and that will be the most impactful over the long run.
“We don’t know what CPEX is going to come up with,” he says. “But whatever it is, we will look at the elements and say, what is realistic for us to raise over the next five years? What should we focus on first?”