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Caring for America's colleges and universities: stewardship lessons from the Getty Foundation Campus Heritage Initiative: chief among the lessons learned--consideration of the effects of campus development on campus heritage need to be integrated within the planning process.


I remember the first full day I spent on a college campus. I was not quite 18, complete with a high school diploma and an eagerness and excitement that I had never previously experienced.

I recall especially that first night: the requisite freshman "mixer" and both the adrenalin and trepidation that went with that moment. There was the wonder of new friends, the exploration of new places, and the learning my way around an environment that soon became familiar, friendly, and forgiving.

This is a campus and place that will forever be entwined with those memories of self-discovery, intellectual enlightenment, and personal experimentation. For what is the undergraduate experience, if not a time to push all those boundaries and establish one's own? We all, I suppose, remember that time in our lives differently, yet there are common themes. For me, as for so many others, college was a moment of both freedom and fear, a time to reach beyond my known horizons to worlds, both physical and intellectual, that I had barely dreamed of before. It was a moment to see myself apart from my comfortable family life. For so many, it is this moment--often stretched out to years--that helps shape and define the directions of our lives.

I have been struck for many years now by the power and presence of the college campus, its unique place and structure in our society, and the particular pressures that these places face from year to year and generation to generation.

As is true for so many places of importance, campuses are valued for their meaning and history, yet are so often neglected, "improved" or even destroyed in the name of progress and advancement. It is a narrow and minimalist view of what we hold near and dear and of the meaning these places have in our individual and collective histories.

If you visit the website of almost any university or college in this country, you will often see the oldest buildings on campus proudly displayed. You will read about legacy and tradition and campus history, as well as about the current and potential glories of these institutions. You will see that colleges and universities present themselves as the keepers and protectors of legacy--intellectual, academic, social, and physical. And then you may read about a new building that will replace an old one, a quad that is now a building site, or an "opportunity" presented by a donor that can simply not be denied. You may also read about campus efforts to protect that legacy, not only regale in it.

College and university campuses present unique opportunities and challenges for historic preservation and campus planning. As the protectors of some of the country's best and most enduring architecture and designed landscapes, campuses are in a unique position to identify, understand, and preserve significant heritage resources. As stewards of these historic resources, colleges and universities are unlike any other large-scale entity, public or private. They exercise a unique degree of control, yet must also respond to legal and zoning requirements, various constituencies, and diverse interest groups. While the preservation issues and demands of these resources may seem usual, the institutional responses to them are often unique.

Getty Foundation Campus Heritage Initiative: What Was Accomplished?

Purpose. The purpose of the Getty Foundation's Campus Heritage Initiative was to assist colleges and universities in the United States in managing and preserving the integrity of their significant historic buildings, sites, and landscapes. The projects supported through this initiative focused on research and survey of historic resources, preparation of preservation master plans, and detailed conservation assessments and analyses. These grants, which did not support conservation implementation or new design, were for entire campuses or significant portions of campuses.

Individual buildings were not eligible. The grant guidelines also included a requirement for an educational component.

Colleges and universities place great value on their physical history, even as that history is sometimes compromised for the sake of growth and development. Universities are often defenders of pluralistic views on many issues; the complexity of appreciation for the historic built environment is therefore not surprising. There is a deep regard for heritage resources on campus, but it is often coupled with a concern about the impact of resource recognition and preservation on long-term campus planning, development, growth opportunities, surrounding neighborhoods, and donor relations.

Campus administrators and leaders are sometimes wary of surveys or designations of historic resources, in the belief that such designations may limit future options for those buildings and landscapes. While the National Register designation does not carry any planning or design limitations, many states and localities have preservation legislation that is triggered by a state or national listing. Some campuses perceive that the highlighting and recognition of these resources may generate public pressure for preservation, thereby limiting future management or development options. Universities and colleges, protectors of open and liberal education, can also be remarkably conservative institutions.

There are a number of critical issues facing campuses as they consider and care for their heritage resources. These issues can be grouped under four broad headings:

* How are campus heritage resources identified, defined, surveyed, and assessed? What do we really know about these resources on college campuses?

* What is the current relationship between campus planning and historic preservation, and what are appropriate and effective preservation planning philosophies, methods, and tools for these resources? How, if at all, does this differ from preservation planning in other contexts?

* What are the challenges of community relations and local zoning, especially as those challenges impact heritage resources on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods? What works and what does not? What are the flash points between campuses and their neighbors?

* What are the opportunities in the areas of institutional leadership, alumni relations, funding, and trustee and legislative priorities? What is the impact of the competing interests of different campus constituencies on heritage resources?

The Campus Heritage Initiative responded to these issues and aspired to heighten both appreciation of and care for these resources.

Process. In 2002, the Getty Foundation supported the first national conference on campus heritage preservation. This conference, attended by approximately 100 invited campus planners, faculty, consultants, historic preservation professionals, and donors from across the county, provided a national forum for the broad discussion of the four issues described previously.

Following that conference, the foundation launched the Campus Heritage Initiative. Between 2002 and 2007, the foundation received hundreds of applications, of which 86 were funded. Total grant funds awarded to campuses exceed $13.5 million to date. The foundation also supported the survey of historic resources at hundreds of colleges through an additional grant to the Council of Independent Colleges of approximately $400,000.

Grant proposals were initially solicited in a narrow range of project topics. As awareness of the Campus Heritage Initiative spread, grants were awarded in open competition, addressing a broader range of heritage resources and preservation issues on a more diverse set of campuses.

Not surprisingly, the initiative was met with great enthusiasm from those campuses that received grants. The program became reasonably well known within the national preservation community, although perhaps less so across college and university campuses.

It is too soon to evaluate the full impact of these projects, either for individual campuses or on campus planning in general. Many of the completed plans have been adopted, and in some cases initial implementation has begun. The true test of the plans will come, however, when a campus is pressured to act against a plan's recommendations or guidelines. Given the development histories of most campuses, the fortitude of a preservation plan may take up to 10 or even 20 years to evaluate. Nevertheless, many projects still created substantial initial impacts on their campuses.

Initial impacts. The very process of completing a project created increased awareness across campus of the value and importance of historic buildings and landscapes. Even the preparation of a grant application, whether successful or not, generated interest in historic resources. In fact, some institutions have proceeded with campus heritage projects without any support from the Getty Foundation.

A number of foundation-funded institutions reported that college and university personnel, ranging from presidents to maintenance staff, have an increased appreciation for and understanding of heritage resources. In some cases, project reports have also served as the basis for renewed support from alumni and donors. At Reed College, for example, the information and ideas generated by the report became the foundation of a national alumni relations program.

One result of the grant program was the increased understanding that preservation can be a productive planning tool, rather than a restrictive overlay. Presidents at Pratt Institute, University of Virginia, and Reed College, for example, were initially reluctant to endorse the preservation projects, yet subsequently became major supporters.

Some campuses, such as the University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern College, have highlighted these projects on their dynamic web pages. This not only informs the campus community of these efforts, but also makes a clear statement to prospective students about the importance of the physical campus and its historic resources in the life of the institution. The public sharing of this information is an important step toward the long-term protection of these resources and their inclusion in future campus planning efforts.

One excellent example of online information distribution is found at the website of the New Mexico State University system at Las Cruces. This site provides a link (see /PreservationPlan.html) to the downloadable first volume of a projected multivolume report based on the research funded by the Getty Foundation grant. The report includes basic information and excellent detail about the foundation-funded project, campus history, and interim project results, including individual building descriptions, defining characteristics, and preservation recommendations. The historic photographs and maps support an outstanding perspective on the campus history.



Implementation projects. Campus Heritage Initiative grant-funded projects have taken anywhere from one to three years to complete. Some campuses, such as Barnard College and Haverford College, have moved forward with implementation projects funded through non-Getty Foundation sources. These projects have included building renovations at Barnard College (figure 1) and a more thoughtful approach to building paint colors at Haverford College (figure 2). While these are somewhat modest efforts, they represent the inclusion of preservation issues previously not considered in campus planning practices. While it may not be possible to assess the full impact of these grants for a number of years, these efforts are a clear sign that campuses are acting on the planning recommendations.

The impact of the surveys and conservation analyses, however, may be clearer within a shorter timeframe. Building conservation and maintenance work seems to be benefiting from these planning efforts and especially from the recommended repairs and technical suggestions identified in some of the reports.

Among the more innovative projects was the preservation template developed by the University System of Georgia. The first part of the project involved the development of "campus historical preservation plan guidelines," a template for campus heritage projects for all state institutions in Georgia. This template serves as a manual for those campuses and includes criteria for identifying cultural resources, guidelines for campus master planning and historic preservation planning, and procedures for preparing a campus heritage document. The template also connects campus preservation planning issues and processes to other state and national standards, including the State of Georgia's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and various National Register Bulletins.

The second part of the project was a test case using the guidelines established in the template in the development of a master plan at Georgia College and State University. Other campuses in the state have also used the template as they move forward with campus heritage efforts. Using the template ensures that preservation issues are considered along with other issues, such as circulation, land use, and academic space need analysis.

Many campuses reported that the engagement of broad campus constituencies in project development and completion was critical to success. Key players included senior campus administrators, such as presidents or chancellors, campus planners, and members of campus advancement and development departments. It was important from the beginning to ensure that project goals were universally accepted or at least understood.

The University of Virginia (UVA) is an important example of project success based upon excellent on-campus communication and broad inclusion of many campus communities. At UVA, there was initial skepticism expressed by many regarding the need for or appropriateness of this project, since it focused on post-Jeffersonian resources. However, the process of project development--and its inclusive nature--succeeded in educating the UVA community about the importance and needs of 19th- and early 20th-century building and landscape resources that had previously been given little attention. In this case, the keys were excellent communication, accurate research, and a willingness on the part of the project team to work closely with those members of the UVA community who expressed the strongest doubts at the beginning of the project.

Surveys, analyses, and plans have been completed and distributed on many of the grant-funded campuses. For most campuses, it is too soon to determine the extent of post-grant activity and implementation. On a few, however, post-grant activities were proposed as part of the final report. A few examples illustrate the range of these actual and proposed activities:

* Berry College proposed the appointment of a campus historic preservation officer with "sufficient authority and resources" to carry out a variety of preservation activities.

* Virginia Military Institute included administrative and management recommendations, such as retaining a campus historic preservation specialist, standardizing review criteria for preservation projects, establishing a Historic Preservation Board of Advisors, and formalizing internal review procedures.

* The University of New Mexico, in addition to its website, has developed a campus walking tour and recommendations for national register nominations (figure 3).

* Bronx Community College has established a "Friends of the Hall of Fame," and has launched a capital campaign that includes the Hall of Fame (figure 4).

* Chatham University has moved ahead with many restoration projects for both historic buildings and historic landscape features. The report developed through the initiative is used as a basis for project decisions, provides important guidelines as projects move forward, and has generally increased sensitivity to historic resources on campus.

* The University of California, Berkeley, reported that the guidelines it developed have been very useful and have spawned other planning documents, including a bicycle master plan. The report has also been used to raise money for projects (see figure 5), both through campus funds and private giving.

* The University of Pittsburgh's final report recommended a coordinated effort by the university's Facilities Management department to establish a protocol through which issues affecting historic building fabric can be identified and addressed prior to project authorization. The report also proposed the use of project materials to train future facilities management staff and students in building conservation practices and the proper inventorying and organization of the Facilities Archive so that its contents can best be preserved and located.




Beginning in the 2003 grant year, the Campus Heritage Initiative projects included an educational component designed to expand knowledge of each project through academic, training, or community experiences. Some schools focused on traditional courses, often with students directly participating in the resource research and survey. In other cases, institutions provided training for maintenance personnel or offered lectures about their historic resources for the public. For example:

* The University of Minnesota Morris sponsored a regional conference titled "Stewards of Past and Future: Exploring Tools for Historic Preservation on Campus" and included other Getty Foundation grant-recipient colleges and universities in the region. All materials from the conference, including readings, schedules, photos, and speaker biographies, were posted to the campus website.

* Cranbrook Educational Community hosted a symposium with multiple speakers for Cranbrook trustees, architects, landscape architects, members of the Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary, and students.

* The Ohio State University offered a preservation maintenance education seminar to senior staff, managers, field personnel, and students that provided an overview of the project, including "do's and don'ts" of preservation maintenance.

While some grantees reported that the projects have improved maintenance procedures, this information is generally based on the increased awareness of historic resources by maintenance staff as a result of training programs. There are no reports of new maintenance manuals specifically for historic resources, although at least one report included detailed maintenance information.

Different campuses have engaged the services of consultants in different ways, and there are a few models for this involvement. Campuses with strong architecture, landscape architecture, or historic preservation departments have used consultants on particular project components and as advisors. Campuses familiar with their resources, but without the academic strengths to contribute to their projects, have relied substantially on consultant services and recommendations. Still other campuses were approached by consultants and encouraged to apply for a grant.

Getty Foundation Campus Heritage Initiative: What Was Learned?

A review of the Campus Heritage Initiative grants and subsequent projects reveals a number of observations and lessons learned.

The most important observation, revealed through a number of post-project interviews, is the impact of this initiative in sparking a national discussion and effort to identify, assess, and preserve campus heritage resources. Despite the success of individual grants, however, there is some belief that the "campus planning process" nationally does not adequately consider heritage resources and is too often focused on merely placing new buildings within the landscape. There appears to be a strong disconnect between campus planning as currently practiced and the goals and intentions of historic preservation.

While the educational component did not always seem central to the development of a campus heritage plan, the inclusion of this requirement proved to be important on many campuses. The expectation that the information and knowledge generated by these reports would be shared with a broader community, both on and off campus, often resulted in an unanticipated benefit to the institution, the campus, and the neighboring community. Additionally, the opportunity for students to participate in the research and generation of materials necessary to prepare the report was an important part of the process for those campuses that chose to proceed in that way.

Most reports included the documentation of the research and analysis and the recommended campus preservation plan. The more successful projects fashioned these reports to fit their individual campus needs and to facilitate the continuing use of project results. Excellent examples of final project reports include those of the University of California, Berkeley; University of Minnesota Morris; Bryn Mawr College; Chatham University; University of Pittsburgh; and Cranbrook Educational Community.

Some states with numerous and important institutions of higher education, such as California and Massachusetts, were substantially underrepresented in this initiative. While geographic distribution is not necessarily a criterion of success, the limited number of grants awarded to major institutions in these states is perhaps an indicator of lack of campus need, interest, or knowledge of the program.

Finally, it became clear that there is a growth industry of consultants who understand the opportunities inherent in the Campus Heritage Initiative. Some consultants marketed their services to colleges and universities, often before campuses were even aware of the grant category. Unfortunately in some cases, these were planning and design firms that do not specialize in historic preservation, but who obviously see the potential for marketing their professional services.

What Is Left To Be Done?

While the Getty Foundation's Campus Heritage Initiative has had an impact on how we think about, understand, and plan for historic resources on campus, there is still much work to be done.

First, while the foundation-funded projects helped establish the need for this work, they barely touched the surface of the number of campuses that could benefit from basic surveys of their resources. Far more excellent and worthy proposals were received than could possibly be funded. If you have ever been involved in grant review, then you know how difficult a process it can be.

Second, there is a great need to provide education about these resources to a broad range of interested groups--and to those who should be interested. The most obvious group is alumni, but it is not the only one. We know from limited experience, for example, that university presidents will truly understand and appreciate the importance of these resources on their campuses if we take the time and effort to educate them. In times of often-declining support for public institutions and in the face of the ever-present need for fund-raising at both public and private schools, this can be a challenge. But it is one that must be met. Perhaps the other group in greatest need of education is comprised of campus planners, many of whom have little or no experience with or understanding of these issues. If we continue to marginalize our attention to history on campus, it will be very difficult to engage either decision makers or planners on these issues.

Third, the Getty Foundation initiative resulted in a rich body of work, and ways must be developed to disseminate these materials. Since many of the projects are not yet complete, it will take some years for this to happen. Fortunately, this effort is being undertaken by the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), with support from the Getty Foundation, through its website, "Campus Heritage Network" (see, and other related activities.

Fourth, there is a real need to develop and share models for the integration of historic resources within broader campus planning efforts. One purpose of the Getty Foundation initiative was to get historic resources "on the table" in any campus planning discussion. That does not mean that those issues always trump all others, but rather that they are always part of the conversation instead of an afterthought. Campuses would never consider planning for a new building without analyzing its impact on parking, pedestrian circulation, environmental concerns, long-term maintenance expenditures, energy conservation, and construction funding, just to name a few. The impact on heritage resources must also be part of those considerations. It would be valuable to consider international models as well, such as the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas in Venezuela, which has an office dedicated to the preservation of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fifth, there are both opportunities and challenges associated with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Historically, beginning in the third quarter of the 19th century, the establishment and construction of these campuses created vital opportunities in higher education for African Americans. HBCUs are often small institutions that have played important roles in the lives of their local communities, with important architecture and campus design. Yet poor funding, limited available resources, and years of deferred maintenance often limit them.

The Getty Foundation funded projects at a number of HBCUs, including Bennett College, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Spelman College, Tougaloo College, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, Talladega College, and Virginia Union University. The HBCU campus preservation planning projects offer great potential for both the campuses and the general public, with the opportunity to reach a population segment that is often underserved in historic preservation.

For these campuses, the grants provided much needed and rarely available funds to plan for the future of these historic resources. Funding for preservation is limited on most campuses and especially so at HBCUs. While these campuses now serve a broader student population, they hold special meaning for alumni, families, and current students. For local communities, these campuses have brought what most colleges or universities provide: educational vitality, outreach to local citizens, some degree of economic development (if only through faculty and staff salaries), and spending in the community. The preservation efforts on these campuses can help them to remain essential parts of the towns and cities in which they exist.

Concluding Thoughts

A few years ago, after being away for many years, I visited my undergraduate institution for commencement weekend and my 30th class reunion. As often happens on those occasions, there were awkward moments with old friends who I no longer recognized and who wouldn't have been able to pick me out of a police line-up. I heard songs in my head that radio stations haven't played for years and relived class conversations with faculty and private moments with sweethearts. I remembered my favorite instructors, those who both challenged and nurtured my intellectual curiosities. And I reflected, as one often does in these circumstances, on what had happened over those decades.

But most of all I walked around campus. Each place evoked a memory, whether it was my freshman dorm room that I hated, a moment in a dining hall, a lazy fall afternoon reading on the lawn, or endless days and evenings spent in the library stacks or searching through the now-defunct card catalogue. I was, most of all, incredibly grateful that in the midst of much-needed new construction, I could still find the places that helped shape my life, buildings and landscapes that helped me find my own place in both space and time.

Robert Z. Melnick is a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon and a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. From 2005 to 2007 he was a visiting senior program officer at the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, responsible for the Campus Heritage Initiative. He has published widely on issues pertaining to historic landscape preservation.
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Author:Melnick, Robert Z.
Publication:Planning for Higher Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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