Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant,

Student Life Master Plan; Dining Contract Review And Options Assessment

Student life is a signature part of Central Michigan University’s student experience, and student life facilities account for 40% of the campus’s overall gross square footage. The university recognizes that students who live on campus and are engaged in student life have better academic performance than off-campus students. With that in mind, the university engaged B&D in 2016 to develop a framework for near- and long-term improvements to its student housing, recreation and wellness, and campus dining facilities. The university’s goal was to have a comprehensive student life capital plan for the next 10 years based on recommendations in our Student Life Master Plan. The work plan for this project included the following:

• Our proprietary Strategic Asset Value visioning session with the University’s executive team, held to ensure that the plan we developed responds to the university’s strategic objectives in the most economical manner possible
• Monthly work sessions with the university’s steering team to vet key assumptions and present findings and recommendations
• Campus facility tours
• An existing conditions analysis to understand the facilities as compared to higher education standards and best practices
• Focus groups with students, faculty, and staff, and 20 stakeholder interviews, all held to gain qualitative information regarding student life
• A competitive context analysis to evaluate the university’s position relative to competitors
• An off-campus housing, recreation and wellness, and dining analysis to understand costs, features, competition, and other metrics of the off-campus markets
• Creation of a density heat map to illustrate campus population shifts during the academic day, plus evenings and weekends
• A survey of students, faculty, and staff to quantify housing demand and analyze preferences and price sensitivities
• A series of economic models to test phasing plans, illustrate feasibility, and measure the impact of the plan on the housing and dining 10-year pro forma

We developed a long-term phasing and implementation plan to enhance the student life experience and presented recommendations to the university’s cabinet. Key recommendations included:

• Create residential swing space (due to high occupancy) in order to initiate the plan
• Transform the North Residential Zone by enhancing housing, recreation and wellness, and dining options
• De-densify the original Towers Residence Halls
• Expand the living and learning experience
• Align dining concept offerings with student demand and preferences


“…CMU leaders and B&D will consider trends and the best practices regarding student life facilities…”