As a state public institution, the university obviously addresses the needs of citizens across California, but Cal Poly knows its actions must be assessed for the impact they might have on the local environment and on the civic and business communities i n San Luis Obispo County.
It may be, however, that the university administration has not always effectively described the wide-ranging consultation that precedes decisions regarding growth or capital improvements on the campus.
For example, a recent "Greenview" opinion in the Telegram-Tribune (Jan. 5), written by Richard Kranzdorf leaves the impression that a handful of university administrators unilaterally make decisions without considerng environmental issues. This is not the case.
The Campus Planning Committee, a panel mandated by the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees, reviews five-year master plans for the campus. This committee, chaired by President Warren Baker, is specifically charged with considering the environmental impact of every capital project.
Members of the committee include the director of Community Development for the city of San Luis Obispo, an appointee named by the chair of the county Board of Supervisors, and representatives from the Academic Senate, staff and student body.
Before the Campus Planning Committee acts, proposals will have been considered by the Dean's Council, the President's Council, and the university's management staff as well as appropriate constituent groups such as the Agriculture Land Use Committee and the Landscape Advisory Committee.
Final recommendations to the CSU Board of Trustees are further reviewed by CSU staff personnel.
Campus planning is a broadly consultative process.
Growth of the university is one issue that is obviously central in long range planning.
Since state support for higher education is no longer declining, the CSU system is slowly restoring enrollment levels consistent with the State Master Plan for Higher Education.
It is necessary for Cal Poly to begin adding enrollment to reach 15,000 full-time students, the university's physical capacity.
In the recent past, enrollment was slightly higher than this number, but was reduced by nearly 2,500 full-time students in response to budget reductions.
The widely discussed "Cal Poly Plan" is not driving this growth. Along with other objectives, this plan will help the university absorb an increase in students so that the quality of a Cal Poly education is not diminished.
Under provisions of the "Cal Poly Plan," enrollment targets will be reached through modest increments over several years, reducing the impact on the campus and the surrounding community.
The plan calls for relatively slight growth in the academic year while the university attracts an increasingly larger student body during summer quarters so that facilities are used more efficiently year-round, and so that students can progress more rapi dly toward graduation.
In addition, impact on the community will be minimized.
While some campus buildings will be remodeled and substandard facilities replaced, no new buildings will be constructed to meet this enrollment increase.
In the meantime, the university is working with community leaders to prepare for a larger population.
Using the findings of a university/city joint study on student housing, a student housing task force involving campus and community leaders is considering ways to accommodate more young people and more faculty and staff members in San Luis Obispo and su rrounding communities.
Additionally, Cal Poly will continue to explore ways to expand alternative transportation programs to mitigate some environmental concerns and traffic congestion associated with a larger population.
These programs include continued subsidies for bus riders, the installation of bicycle paths, and vigorous marketing of van pools and car pooling. These efforts have been model programs among employers in San Luis Obispo County.
Looking farther ahead, it is likely that the state will ask Cal Poly to grow beyond its current capacity to help meet what has been called a "tidal wave" of college-age students seeking university educations.
While many Cal Poly faculty and staff are aggressively searching for non-traditional ways to instruct students through distance learning and other uses of technology to limit the need for new facilities, it is likely that the campus will eventually be re quired to find space for a larger student body.
Changes that this growth will bring about in the university's master plan will call for complete environmental impact studies along with many other considerations. And, of course, the university will continue to coordinate planning with leaders from the county and surrounding communities.
One recent example of successful joint planning between the university and civic leaders is the initiative to replace or relocate some of Cal Poly's athletic facilities while adding recreation space that will be open to the public.
These decisions were made after wide consultation and were based on carefully considered land-use principles.
In the meantime, the university has instigated creek rehabilitation projects for streams running through campus with some of this work completed while the remainder awaits state funding.
A proposal to move some College of Agriculture facilities to improve the creek environment has also been submitted to the state for priority funding.
With an improved state budget, Cal Poly has finally been given the $22 million it has been requesting for years to replace heating and water systems.
New systems will reduce energy consumption considerably.
While not initiated by the university, the State Water Project is designed to traverse some university-owned land. After discussions between the university staff and the Department of Water Resources over the past 30 months, a number of design changes we re made to reduce the impact on campus property.
These discussions are continuing to address unresolved concerns.
It has always been Cal Poly's desire to be a good neighbor within the local community. The university has dedicated itself to being environmentally responsible and fully responsive to the concerns of local business and civic groups.
To meet this goal, Cal Poly's administration will continue to seek the widest possible consultation on any projects the university undertakes.
Frank Lebens is Cal Poly vice president for administration and finance.
Go back to News.