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Unlocking Campus Potential: How Occupancy Data Builds Space Planning Consensus

In the bustling world of academia, where space is both coveted and contested, the quest for optimal occupancy management can often feel like navigating a labyrinth of conflicting interests. However, at Purdue University, a transformative approach led by leaders like Rob Wynkoop, VP of Auxiliary services, has reshaped the conversation, turning data into a powerful catalyst for consensus-building and innovation.

Rob Wynkoop has been at Purdue long enough to see the evolution of campus utilization. He and his team are on the receiving end of space requests on campus and while there’s never enough space on campus to meet the growing needs, Purdue continues to increase their enrollments year over year, they’ve seen the impact of hybrid work and learning first-hand. Not only that, Wynkoop has noticed a shift in the types of spaces being requested. It’s far more common for faculty and student groups to request collaboration spaces. Furthermore, student groups and departments need spaces to meet, engage, and build relationships.

To make room on campus for the dramatic shift in how campuses are used, Wynkoop had to convince department leaders to re-evaluate their spaces. One of the challenges he faced was transforming the space planning narrative. Instead of taking underutilized space away from departments, Wynkoop used data to help leaders visualize the way their spaces are used and then helped them envision a better future for the space. In many instances, the data opened up the conversation and helped them to come see hidden opportunities.

Data-driven Dialogues: Shifting from Territory Wars to Collaboration

In many campus settings, discussions about space allocation can quickly devolve into territorial battles, with departments fiercely guarding their domains. However, Wynkoop recognized that the key to fostering constructive conversations lay in leveraging data to illuminate the bigger picture. By arming stakeholders with actionable insights, Wynkoop reframed the narrative from one of competition to collaboration. Rather than viewing underutilized spaces as ripe for takeover, stakeholders began to see them as opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning experiences. Data became the cornerstone of a new era of cooperation, where shared goals and mutual benefits took precedence over individual interests.

Aligning Data with Business Imperatives: Driving Operational Excellence

At Purdue, where the pursuit of academic excellence is matched only by a commitment to fiscal responsibility, data serves as a linchpin in achieving strategic objectives. With a thirteen-year streak of freezing tuition on the line, the university recognized the imperative of operational excellence across all facets of its operations. Facilities management emerged as a significant area of focus, with data revealing inefficiencies and untapped potential. By tying occupancy data back to broader business objectives, department heads were galvanized to embrace the imperative of maximizing space utilization. The result? Not only did Purdue avoid the need for additional lease expenditures, but it also unlocked newfound efficiencies that contributed to its financial sustainability.

Transparency Fuels Transformation: Embracing Cost Savings for Strategic Growth

In the pursuit of strategic space utilization, transparency emerges as a linchpin for success. Purdue’s journey towards optimization necessitated a candid reckoning with the costs and savings associated with space management. By shedding light on the true cost of maintaining buildings and the potential for long-term savings through short-term investments, transparency became a catalyst for transformation. Whether through the reappropriation of space within the IT department or the divestment of Heavilon Hall, stakeholders across the campus ecosystem were empowered to embrace data-driven decision-making. Moreover, the transparency surrounding cost savings not only facilitated negotiations around space repurposing but also bolstered Purdue’s ability to secure grants and state funding, further fueling its mission of academic excellence.

Purdue University’s journey towards consensus on occupancy technology serves as a testament to the transformative power of data. By harnessing the insights gleaned from data-driven approaches, campus leaders like Wynkoop have not only fostered collaboration but also unlocked new areas of efficiency and innovation.

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