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May 30, 2005

Making sense of the campus's LRDP project

In an effort to provide additional information to the campus community about the process of updating the campus’s Long Range Development Plan, Currents is periodically discussing various aspects of the LRDP with campus personnel.

Photot of Jean Marie Scott

Jean Marie Scott
Photo: Louise Donahue

This month’s Q&A is with Jean Marie Scott, associate vice chancellor of Colleges and University Housing Services. AVC Scott is an expert on housing issues related to the planning project.

Q. How would you assess UCSC’s record of meeting students’ housing needs?

A. UCSC has one of the finest portfolios of housing inventories in the nation. During the past five years alone, the campus has added housing for approximately 2,000 additional students, and our housing options are enhanced by an incredible array of dining services and coffee shops. The backbone of UCSC housing is our system of residential colleges, which transform a physical living experience into a vibrant and engaging learning experience for our students.

During this past fall quarter, UCSC housed approximately 44 percent of our undergraduate students in university-sponsored housing. That’s the highest percentage in the UC system and one of the highest in the nation for public universities.

Q. What aspects of housing are most challenging for a campus like UCSC that is growing?

A. On UC campuses, housing is a self-supporting enterprise, which means that 100 percent of the costs for operations and debt must be covered by the rental rate structure and other revenue generated from the enterprise. As we have added significant amounts of housing to our inventory in recent years, the debt for these units has added substantially to our overall rate structure. We spread this debt over a long period of time so that the impact on rates is gradual. But the recent acceleration of UCSC housing growth has placed a strain on our rate structure.

It is also critical to understand that our ability to grow university housing is dependent on conditions in our regional housing market. In other words, we try to ensure that our rate structure doesn’t make it so that on-campus housing is too expensive to compete with regional housing. In addition to considering the availability and price of local housing, before we begin every project we conduct an extensive demand analysis to forecast absorption rates for the new housing. National research models, as well as recent research conducted on our campus, suggest that the average yield of undergraduate students into university housing at four-year public institutions may top out at about 50 percent. In other words, due to a variety of developmental, financial, and social reasons, even if the campus were to build housing capacity to 70 percent of undergraduates, the likely yield might not exceed 50 percent.

Q. What is the latest on UCSC’s efforts to provide housing for faculty and staff?

A. The campus is moving into the last set of approvals for the Ranch View Terrace Project. Now that we have the approval of the Regents, groundbreaking is scheduled for August 2005. This project is planned to deliver 45 single-family homes in Phase I of construction and a total of 39 homes in Phases II and III.

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