Huron, Ohio – In 1966 Bowling Green State University purchased 216.5 acres of land in rural Huron and set in motion plans for a regional campus.  Forty-five years ago that plan laid the foundation for the creation of a facility that would serve the diverse educational needs of this community; this year, Bowling Green State University Firelands College has reaffirmed that promise to the community with the unveiling of a new Campus Master Plan.

“We are excited to be able to deliver this plan to the community,” said BGSU Firelands Dean William Balzer.  “When the idea for this College was introduced in the early 1960s, it was the community that embraced the need for a regional college and made that dream a reality.  We feel it is equally important to keep our community involved at this next important step in the fulfillment of that dream,” he added.

The new master plan was developed by a representative team of faculty and staff from the College with the help of Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, a master plan consulting firm.  Approved by the BGSU Board of Trustees on Dec. 10, 2010, the new Campus Master Plan is a blueprint to guide BGSU Firelands through the next 15+ years and enable the College to continue to fulfill its primary goal of meeting the higher education needs of the region.

The plan provides direction in four key areas:

1)  The campus facilities need to expand to accommodate the current student population and projected enrollment growth.

At a current enrollment of more than 2,500 students, which is approximately double the enrollment 10 years ago, the BGSU Firelands campus currently needs additional building space to meet student academic and support needs.  Moreover, enrollment is projected to increase by 4 percent each year for the next 15 years. With projected enrollment of nearly 5,000 students in 2025, the campus will require several new buildings to accommodate the growth in students, faculty, staff, and academic and support space.

With these factors in mind, the Master Plan calls for three additional buildings to be added in phases as demanded by growth and the availability of funds for capital investments.

2)  Consider college/community partnerships to leverage the development of the existing campus acreage in support of the educational mission and student success.

“The College founders clearly had an impressive vision for the campus when they purchased more than 200 acres of land,” said Balzer.  “The vast majority of that land is currently leased for agriculture, but we recognize that there may be better uses which can serve our students and our community.”

The Master Plan will allow the College to investigate the development of public-private partnerships which provide enhancements to the campus.  Possibilities might include student-community recreational facilities, a business incubator, a daycare center, and mixed use senior/student housing. 

Many of these ventures would support academic programs and initiatives at the College; for example, students in the bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education could complete internships in a daycare facility, and business and technology students could complete co-op experiences at startup businesses located on the campus.

3) Expand the design and beauty of the James H. McBride Arboretum to the entire campus.

“Located behind the College, the 47-acre James H. McBride Arboretum is an amazing and beautiful asset for our campus,” said Balzer, “but our master plan recognizes that we need to more fully showcase this community jewel through a transition from being a campus with an arboretum in the backyard to a campus ‘on’ an arboretum.”

Future landscaping decisions will be advised by the McBride Arboretum Board to extend the arboretum-like landscaping throughout the entire campus and into the front grounds for all to enjoy.

4) Continue the excellent stewardship of existing campus grounds and facilities.

According to Balzer, the BGSU Firelands family – students, staff, and the community – take great pride in the campus grounds.  “When buildings need to be repaired, we fix them, and when litter is on the ground, everyone takes responsibility for cleaning it up,” said Balzer.

The Campus Master Plan underscores the importance of an ongoing commitment to maintain existing buildings and facilities so that they can continue to serve many future generations of students who study at the college.

 A summary of the new Campus Master Plan is available in the Office of the Dean at BGSU Firelands. Balzer and other College personnel will also be providing presentations throughout the community. If your organization is interested in hosting a presentation, contact Dean Schnurr at 419.433.5560.

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