Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
_K3A2109 2.jpg

You asked...administration answered

The Echo met with Will Hagen, vice president for strategy and chief of staff, to communicate student feedback regarding the Master Plan. Questions and comments were sourced from a survey the Echo distributed over the course of four months. Further discussion can be directed toward the Taylor Student Organization (TSO) or Will Hagen at will_hagen@taylor.edu. Thank you for your participation!

Why were new apartments built instead of more dorm housing?

"We had seen in our own data, a large number of students who are leaving campus because they don't have access to that kind of housing, and would leave campus altogether rather than being in preferred housing options here on campus. So that's one reason we wanted to do the townhome-style housing. (It) was just because we thought there was a real desire for it.

It's something we could build in time to actually have the housing we needed. But it isn't just we're only building townhomes and we’re not considering building additional residence halls on campus — because we definitely are considering that."

How much input do current students have in the plan as it's developing, and what role can students actively play?

"I see TSO as the main group that's facilitating input into planning processes that we would be doing … Going forward, I definitely see TSO as being a key group that would help us understand the student desires.

One thing I expect to happen is before we break ground on specific projects that we have a lot more conversation with students. The other thing is, I sure will talk to TSO about – what do they think would be helpful next year … But I also encourage students if they have concerns, thoughts or ideas, they're certainly welcome to reach out to me directly; but I also think TSO is a great vehicle through which students can share their ideas and thoughts with the administration."

What would administration say are the top priorities of the plan? 

"(Development) causes real growing pains on campus because there's just so much happening all at once, and we want to get it done now because we want our students to be able to experience these things while they're here before they graduate. 

I'd say, really, we're trying to make sure that we're preserving the student experience and the primary ways we see that would be in dining, in classroom experience and classroom space and then residence halls — and sometimes it's just: ‘What can we actually make progress on right now? Let's make progress on that right away.’"

In this season of development for both Upland and Taylor, how do we ensure neither loses their identity?

"In the end, we believe more than a quarter of Upland’s residents participated, either in person or through surveys, in terms of: What were they interested in us applying for? And so I really do see the things that we've submitted as being things that won't change Upland to be something different. They're not something that Taylor wants that Upland has no interest in. I really see them as longtime aspirations that the town has had that are old ideas, but that a new funding source is actually going to help to come to fruition. 

If you think about the University's more than 175 year history, there's certainly been times where the University has thought about: 'How do we make that timeless mission timely?' and, 'How do we hold on to what's really essential?' but also make sure that we're prepared to respond to what the Lord is having us to do. And I'd say that the way that we're trying to be responsive right now is thinking about, 'How do we keep the essence of what makes Taylor really special while upgrading our facilities?' — making sure that we have a world class experience in our physical plan and what students experience when they're walking around campus. And also, 'How do we make sure that we're supporting the growth in our student body so that the student body experience doesn't change in a dramatic way?' And it's not an aspiration that we're going to double in size or something like that. We're really talking about incremental growth to a point that people would still say, Taylor’s still a small school, you know, whether you're 2500 or 2000, that's still a small school. We're not thinking we want to be 10,000 students like Baylor or something like that." 

What role does sustainability play in ongoing development? 

"Design Collaborative, who's the architect partner that we work with on most of our projects, not all of them, but almost all of them, has a really good sustainability program when it comes to thinking about – what are the light fixtures? What's the water runoff, you know, are we destroying habitat, things like that. So, that was important to us in selecting a partner, that we chose someone who this was important to.

For a number of years, the University had a council on sustainability. I think it kind of went dormant during COVID-19, but we just brought it back this year. And so that's been a nice opportunity." 

Will any debt be incurred as a result of the new developments? 

"For the Lilly Endowment, the university would not take on any debt related to those projects. We are making investments in that, but none of it is coming through debt. And really, some of the Lilly projects may be funded by private developers who want to participate in the work with us and they might take on debt, but the University would not take on debt as part of that work. When it comes to our on-campus project, we have not taken on any additional debt."

Will parking concerns be addressed with the new developments?

"I think that's something that came up through the master planning process, and we didn't reach a, you know, final ultimatum of what we're going to do, but I think we are really trying to think about how (to) preserve the park-like environment on campus and I think part of that does include trying to keep traffic to the periphery on campus, even though I know that does sometimes mean folks have to walk further than they want to to get to their residence hall or to get to their dining option."