Feature Article - June 2012
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Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

Many colleges and universities continue to make efforts to improve their recreational offerings, as recreation and wellness centers have become a useful recruitment and retention tool, as well as a way of serving students beyond the classroom. Anecdotal evidence shows that many schools have switched from developing all-new facilities to making renovations to improve their existing facilities. This has sometimes been done to stunning effect, as evidenced in the 2012 Innovative Architecture and Design Awards, where we showcased several winning university recreation facilities that completely transformed existing spaces into showstoppers.

Nearly one-fifth (19.2 percent) of respondents in 2012 were from colleges and universities. This is slightly up from last year, when 16.5 percent of respondents were representing colleges and universities.

Compared with respondents across the board, college and university respondents were slightly more likely to be from the Northeast and South Central regions. While 17.8 percent of all respondents were in the Northeast, 22.7 percent of college respondents were from this region, and though 13.6 percent of all respondents were from the South Central region, 16.5 percent of college respondents were from South Central states. There was virtually no difference between the number of general survey respondents and college respondents who were from the Midwest. Some 28.9 percent of college respondents call the Midwest their home, compared with 28.7 percent of all respondents. College respondents were less likely than others to be from the South Atlantic states (16.5 percent vs. 18.8 percent of all respondents) or the West (15.5 percent vs. 20.6 percent).

Respondents from colleges and universities were far more likely to hail from urban communities when compared with the general survey population. While around a quarter (25.3 percent) of all survey respondents called urban communities home, more than a third (36.5 percent) of college respondents were from urban areas. Conversely, they were less likely to be from suburban communities (34.7 percent of college respondents vs. 41.2 percent of all respondents) or rural areas (28.8 percent vs. 33.5 percent).

A majority of college and university respondents—59.5 percent—indicated that they were from public organizations, while nearly a third (32.6 percent) said they worked for private nonprofit schools. Another 7.2 percent said they worked for private, for-profit schools.

Respondents from colleges and universities generally managed fewer facilities than many other survey respondents. On average, college respondents manage 3.7 facilities. They were more likely than the general survey population to report that they handle three or fewer facilities. While 58.8 percent of all respondents manage three or fewer, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of college respondents manage three or fewer facilities. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they were far less likely to report that they managed 10 or more facilities, with just 5.7 percent of college respondents managing 10 or more facilities vs. 17.6 percent of all respondents.

While college and university respondents were slightly less likely than those from other facility types to report that they partnered with other organizations, colleges were selected as one of the most common partners by all facilities. Some 83.6 percent of college and university respondents form partnerships with outside organizations, compared with 86.1 percent of all respondents. Colleges were the fourth most common partner selected by organizations that do partner with other facilities. More than three-quarters of respondents (34.7 percent) said they partnered with colleges and universities.