Space: A final frontier

This is a guest post from the Nicholson School of Communication Director Robert C. Chandler.

UCF has a space challenge. This is not a challenge presented by “Sputnik” to which rockets can resolve. While there is plenty of empty spaces around our campus – buildings, classrooms, offices and administrative “space” is in serious short supply. In general, the pace of growth at UCF has progressed far faster than the capacity to build sufficient spaces for the growth. In a sense, this is a “space race” in which the university has been trailing further behind. The problems of the lack of space on campus are compounded by resource limitations.

The State of Florida allocation for on-campus construction (PECO funds) is constrained by the same budgetary squeeze and there does not appear to be a new building spree anytime soon. Across campus there are real and absolute shortages of classrooms (particularly large sized classrooms), faculty offices, student learning and co-curricular, research labs and administrative support space. There are also challenges with the allocation of existing space among various colleges, schools and other units. Some seem to have an abundance of space (apparently underutilized) while others languish in desperate need for more space to meet mission critical needs. Admittedly “appearances” may not tell the entire story – based a quick glance it does appear that there are both space “haves” and “have-nots” on our campus.

In the Nicholson School of Communication (NSC), we also face serious space challenges. A quick walk through reveals that we have faculty who double up (and in one case triple up) in assigned faculty offices and there are serious shortages in the number of faculty office spaces available period. Furthermore, there are shortages of research lab space, insufficient administrative support space and a need for additional spaces for advising, graduate students, large meeting rooms and student activities. In fact, the lack of space is the first or second identified primary obstacle for the emergence of new or specialized endeavors within NSC.

The lack of space is a serious challenge which inherently impedes the advancement of our research, teaching and service missions.Many people mistakenly assume that since the school “has a building” that we must have adequate space to meet the various needs of our programs, students and faculty.

In fact, within the Nicholson School of Communication building a substantial percentage of the building is “non-assignable” space – allocated to the University at large and not within the scope of the school. Such space would logically include utilities, HVAC, janitorial services, telecommunication and computer junctures and classrooms under the control of central scheduling. In fact, in total less than half of the available square footage in the building is assignable to units. Among that assignable space – a significant percentage of it is assigned to units other than the school of communication.

These other tenants in the building include many from the College of Arts and Humanities (e.g. Department of Film administrative offices, Film faculty offices, film production studios, film screening rooms, etc.) as well as a very large percentage is assigned to WUCF-FM radio (which contrary to the assumptions of many is not within the span of NSC). In fact, only about 42% of the assignable space within the Nicholson School of Communication building is actually assigned to the Nicholson School of Communication. The faculty, staff and students of NSC are “bursting the seams” of our limited space.

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