Guest Commentary by Duke Oakley

The long term survivability of traditional higher education is in doubt.  MOOC’s, SPOC’s and digital disruption are ideas prominently in play.  Yet the value of physical campus, however difficult to define, endures.  Duke Oakley, former UCLA Campus Architect and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Design and Construction, has written an extensive Guest Commentary on the continued relevance of the college campus. [link]

Charles Warner Oakley is a graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania.  From 1986 to 2000, he was Campus Architect and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Design and Construction at the University of California – Los Angeles.  During his tenure, he guided the planning of the campus and the design of more than 4.5 million square feet of new building area and renovation of more than 3 million square feet.

“Duke” as his friends and colleagues know him, is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an emeritus member of the Association of University Architects. 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “Guest Commentary by Duke Oakley

  1. This is a very relevant and articulate defense the a uniquely American urban typology. I believe the healthy exchange of ideas leads to positive evolutionary change. There is little doubt the universities/colleges need to change and evolve but the fundamental value of the educational community in transforming youth into citizens is THE distinguishing characteristic that has made this country a leader in the world. Much of the technology that is transforming Higher Ed was born there, an as such will be deployed, culturally integrated and civilized there. We need to move forward with a sense of urgency but not in a way that compromises this critical and unique national heritage. Thanks to Duke for rising to the occasion and to Michael for asking the difficult questions and creating the forum.

  2. Thank you, Duke, for a thoughtful assessment and reflection. I believe there is no doubt that for a large number of institutions, the campus will remain for a long time. It is important to note, however, that the campus itself often has a strong role to play in the viability of the institution. Similar to Antioch, many campuses, especially small liberal arts colleges are facing broken business plans…no longer able to pursue their specified missions because of tuition dependency and other stressed revenue sources. Colleges and universities, large and small, are spending a larger percentage of their annual budgets on the operations and maintenance of the campus facilities than ever before…meaning a smaller percentage is going to the direct support of teaching and research. At a time when the perceived value of an education is at an all time low, this is an unsustainable path. Those of us in the university facilities and construction industry have a new role…how do we help our administrators and board members better understand this deeply integrated challenge and how can we better…more strategically…minimize costs and leverage our facilities to support the university’s mission?

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