James Madison University

Office of Institutional Research


 

Study of Facilities Use
at James Madison University
1996-97

 

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION METHODOLOGY
RESULTS DISCUSSION

Introduction

James Madison University has grown rapidly in the last 16 years from 8,817 students in Fall 1980 to 12,963 in Fall 1996. It is expected to grow to more than 14,700 by Fall 2001. The Fall 1997 enrollment is expected to exceed 13,700. Continued growth of this magnitude places enormous pressure on an institution to use its space wisely. The university has experienced rapid growth in its physical plant to try to keep up with this enrollment growth; however, rapid growth has at times strained all facilities, especially classrooms and class labs.

Since more than $60 million dollars in general fund money for capital outlay has been expended since 1980 at JMU, demands have risen for accountability for the wise use of resources. SCHEV scrutinizes how well publicly funded higher education institutions use their space. In fact, the State has tightened its criteria for justifying new space, and SCHEV will review space utilization in the future data to determine how efficiently new space is used. Several of the new performance indicators for all public higher education institutions developed by SCHEV and the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) relate to the use of classrooms and class labs.

Increased enrollments at JMU tax the use of academic space, necessitating a much closer inspection of when and where academic space is used for instruction. This is particularly true because of the unexpectedly large freshman class in Fall 1996 and the 750 student increase for Fall 1997. A major concern is when and where can these new students be housed and taught.

Several guiding research questions were developed to gather information to help the JMU community understand how the university has grown and how efficiently it uses space. These guiding research questions are presented below:

  • How does JMU's utilization compare with other Virginia public institutions? What are the performance indicators for JMU for Fall 1998?
  • How many rooms and how much assignable square feet does JMU have by type of space (classroom, class lab, office, etc.)?
  • What is the profile of instructional space use by day and time for Fall 1996? How efficiently was this space used? Are there times when additional classes could be added?
  • How can JMU meet the instructional space pressures that come with enrollment growth?

Methodology

The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) maintains JMU’s official institutional space profile. Annually in October a file of space profile information is sent to SCHEV. This profile contains information such as building number, room number, room use code, function code (instruction, research, etc.), and square feet. Every other year OIR sends a room utilization file to SCHEV. This second file is used by SCHEV to learn how efficiently all institutions are using their instructional space.

The utilization file was used to calculate JMU's utilization statistics.

The information in this file was used to generate a table and graphs of space usage by day and time. This file was also used to determine how efficiently the space was used by day and time. All data were analyzed using Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel.

Results

The results of this study are presented below and are organized by the guiding research questions.

  • How does JMU's utilization compare with other Virginia public institutions?

Table 1 shows the classroom utilization statistics for James Madison University and the other public institutions for Fall 1996. The standard for weekly hours of room use is 40. Only three institutions, George Mason University, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, met the standard in Fall 1996. JMU’s rate was 37 hours. The standard for the average proportion of seats filled in a classroom is 60. Nine institutions, including JMU, met this standard. The standard for weekly hours of seat usage (SCHEV calls seats stations) is 24 for classrooms. Six institutions, including JMU, exceeded the standard. JMU's figure, 28, was the highest of all public institutions. Only two institutions, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University, met all three standards. JMU met two out of the three.

JMU's weekly hours of room use (37) was close to SCHEV's standard of 40 for an extended day (8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). However, it is more difficult for institutions located in a small towns like JMU to meet the extended day standard because there is little demand from the community for evening courses.

Table 2 shows the class lab utilization statistics for James Madison University and the other public institutions for Fall 1996. The SCHEV standard for average number of hours of use is 24. Five institutions, including JMU, exceeded the standard. The standard for the average proportion of seats filled in a class lab is 75. Eleven institutions, including JMU, met this standard. Finally, the standard for weekly hours of seat usage is 18. Five institutions, including JMU met this standard. Only JMU, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Virginia Community College System met all three standards for class labs.

The results indicate that Virginia Commonwealth University is the most efficient user of space, followed by JMU, George Mason University, and the Virginia Community College System. Since this utilization file was sent to SCHEV in Fall 1996, an analysis of underutilized classroom space at JMU has resulted in the reclassification of nine classrooms into either conference rooms (8) or class labs (1). This should result in an increase in the average number of weekly hours of use.

The Department of Planning and Budget mandated that each institution develop performance measures in classroom use. JMU met all its standards in 1996 that were set for 1998.

 

Table 1
Classroom Utilization
Fall 1996

Institution

Weekly Hours of Room Use
Standard = 40
1

Percent of Occupancy
Standard = 60%
2

Weekly Hours of Station (Seats) Use
Standard = 24
3

Doctoral

     

George Mason

44

65%

27

Old Dominion

46

51%

23

University of Virginia

32

57%

18

Virginia Commonwealth

43

61%

26

Virginia Tech

36

75%

27

William & Mary

28

61%

17

Comprehensives

     

Christopher Newport

38

59%

23

Clinch Valley

26

59%

15

James Madison

37

76%

28

Longwood

29

60%

17

Mary Washington

35

64%

22

Norfolk State

26

59%

15

Radford

39

58%

23

Virginia Military

14

56%

8

Virginia State

30

58%

17

Two Year Institutions

     

VCCS

34

74%

25

Richard Bland

18

67%

12

  Met standard
  1. Weekly hours of room use is the total hours of classroom use, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., divided by the total number of classrooms.
  2. Percent of occupancy is the total hours per week that each station (seat) is used divided by the weekly hours of room use.
  3. Weekly hours of seat (station) use is the total hours seats (stations) occupied divided by the total hours all seats could have been used when the room was occupied. For example, suppose 10 classrooms each have 20 seats and are used 40 hours per week. However, suppose each class contained 15 students. The total actual weekly seat use hours was 6,000 [10 classrooms X 15 seats X 40 hours]. The average weekly seat use hours is 30 [6,000 / (10 classrooms X 20 seats)].

Table 2
Class Lab Utilization
Fall 1996

Institution

Weekly Hours of Room Use
Standard = 24

Percent of Occupancy
Standard = 75%

Weekly Hours of Seat (Station) Use
Standard = 18

Doctoral

     

George Mason

26

69%

18

Old Dominion

33

72%

24

University of Virginia

19

51%

10

Virginia Commonwealth

26

75%

20

Virginia Tech

20

70%

14

William & Mary

19

77%

15

Comprehensives

     

Christopher Newport

16

72%

11

Clinch Valley

13

79%

10

James Madison

26

77%

20

Longwood

13

79%

10

Mary Washington

12

84%

10

Norfolk State

11

79%

9

Radford

18

94%

17

Virginia Military

7

40%

3

Virginia State

9

80%

7

Two Year Institutions

     

VCCS

26

79%

20

Richard Bland

13

84%

11

  • How many rooms and how much assignable square feet does JMU have by type of space (classroom, class lab, office, etc.)?

Higher education institutions are like small cities. A wide variety of space must exist on a campus to enable the institution to carry out its mission. The Office of Institutional Research inventories each space. Each type of space in the inventory is coded with a unique room use code. Table 3 shows the room use code, the room use definition, and the number of rooms and assignable square feet by type of space.

 

Table 3
Campus Space Inventory
Fall 1996

Room Use

Description of Space

Seats/Stations

Square
Feet

Number
of Rooms

110

CLASSROOM

5,440

88,701

121

115

CLASSROOM SERVICE

-

4,061

51

210

CLASS LAB

1,641

48,221

49

215

CLASS LAB SERVICE

-

15,247

85

220

OPEN LAB

1,519

55,734

125

225

OPEN LAB SERVICE

-

10,225

89

250

RESEARCH LAB

238

18,664

61

255

RESEARCH LAB SERVICE

-

916

8

310

OFFICE

2,011

245,715

1,508

315

OFFICE SERVICE

-

49,169

606

350

CONFERENCE ROOM

664

14,972

59

355

CONFERENCE ROOM SERVICE

-

634

10

410

STUDY ROOM

1,081

31,637

105

420

STACK

-

6,472

8

430

OPEN-STACK STUDY

731

62,629

16

440

PROCESSING ROOM

-

8,614

5

455

STUDY SERVICE

-

2,718

18

510

ARMORY

-

450

1

515

ARMORY SERVICE

-

1,032

1

520

ATHLETIC OR PHYSICAL ED

-

111,040

30

523

ATHLETIC SPECTATOR SEATING (CONVOCATION CENTER)

4,964

18,348

3

525

ATHLETIC OR PHYSICAL ED SERVICE

-

48,576

101

530

MEDIA PRODUCTION

-

8,785

21

535

MEDIA PRODUCTION SERVICE

-

3,141

20

540

CLINIC

-

5,949

23

545

CLINIC SERVICE

-

1,513

11

550

DEMONSTRATION

-

4,802

6

555

DEMONSTRATION SERVICE

-

1,524

7

570

ANIMAL QUARTERS

-

1,617

11

575

ANIMAL QUARTER SERVICE

-

1,147

6

580

GREENHOUSE

-

1,092

2

585

GREENHOUSE SERVICE

-

687

2

590

OTHER (ALL PURPOSE)

-

2,204

8

610

ASSEMBLY

2,723

25,553

6

615

ASSEMBLY SERVICE

-

6,920

27

620

EXHIBITION

-

4,108

14

625

EXHIBITION SERVICE

-

1,188

21

630

FOOD FACILITY

1,891

33,323

14

635

FOOD FACILITY SERVICE

-

27,677

77

650

LOUNGE

10

70,018

102

655

LOUNGE SERVICE

-

11,055

95

660

MERCHANDISING

-

30,124

32

665

MERCHANDISING SERVICE

-

4,227

13

670

RECREATION

-

85,074

32

675

RECREATION SERVICE

-

14,377

40

680

MEETING ROOM

1,664

24,134

33

685

MEETING ROOM SERVICE

-

2,850

25

710

CENTRAL COMPUTER/TELECOMM

-

2,842

7

715

CENTRAL COMPUTER/TELECOMM SERV

-

1,523

6

720

SHOP

-

10,732

14

725

SHOP SERVICE

-

7,173

22

730

CENTRAL STORAGE

-

54,657

52

735

CENTRAL STORAGE SERVICE

-

288

1

740

VEHICLE STORAGE

-

2,684

2

745

VEHICLE STORAGE SERVICE

-

3,483

4

750

CENTRAL SERVICE

-

19,001

4

755

CENTRAL SERVICE SUPPORT

-

689

5

810

PATIENT BEDROOM

4

400

2

820

PATIENT BATH

-

48

2

830

NURSE STATION

-

112

1

835

NURSE STATION SERVICE

-

120

4

850

TREATMENT/ EXAM

-

1,086

11

855

TREATMENT/ EXAM SERVICE

-

252

5

860

DIAGNOSTIC SERVICE LAB

-

64

1

870

CENTRAL SUPPLIES

-

157

6

880

PUBLIC WAITING

-

910

2

910

SLEEP/STUDY WITHOUT TOILET/BATH

3,487

340,160

1,193

919

TOILET OR BATH

-

35,708

223

920

STUDY/SLEEP WITH TOILET/BATH

1,769

209,650

732

935

SLEEP/STUDY SERVICE

-

42,850

248

950

APARTMENT

-

68,741

120

955

APARTMENT SERVICE

-

566

3

970

HOUSE

-

15,051

3

 

TOTALS

29,837

2,035,811

6,381

  • What is the profile of instructional space use by day and time for Fall 1996? How efficiently was this space used? Do there appear to be times when additional classes could be added?

Table 4 shows the number of sections in classrooms or laboratories by day and time period each section is in session. The number of sections is the sum of sections fully meeting during an hour block and those meeting partially during a block. For example, if a class meets during the first half-hour, it gets a .50 for that hour. The data show that 65 percent of the sections occur between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and that Friday is not nearly as busy as the other days of the week. Headcount enrollment grew by more than 1,000 students between Fall 1995 and Fall 1996. While additional sections were added throughout the day, the percentage of classes in session during the 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. period only decreased by one percent. This means that this "prime time" is still when faculty and students desire to teach and take classes.

On Friday a troubling phenomenon continued to occur. Like last year, only about half of the total sections offered on Wednesday were taught on Friday. Analysis of the data found that more than 155 three- or four-credit courses meet on Monday and Wednesday only for 75 minutes, the normal Tuesday and Thursday time block. This is a slight decrease from 170 in Fall 1995. More than 103 sections met on Monday and Wednesday between 12:00 and 5:00 p.m. Again, this is an improvement from 120 in 1995. This explains why so few classes meet on Friday afternoons as compared with the rest of the week. Some of the reduction in Friday sections is due to the fact that 98 sections met on Monday and Wednesday because the credit hours of the courses did not necessitate meeting on Friday.

These findings are similar to other institutions. A group of JMU staff visited the University of Virginia in June 1996 and found that UVA’s class meetings followed a very similar pattern. However, JMU class utilization rate is much better than UVA’s.

 

Table 4
Number of Sections in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1996

Hour
Beginning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday TOTAL

7:00 AM

0.75

1.67

3.58

1.00

0.75

7.75

8:00 AM

89.33

96.08

90.00

97.08

74.33

446.82

9:00 AM

143.08

127.67

145.58

129.67

121.08

667.08

10:00 AM

148.17

152.33

146.17

154.42

119.92

721.01

11:00 AM

145.17

156.33

151.00

156.00

116.67

725.17

12:00 PM

112.08

139.17

119.83

137.58

88.42

597.08

1:00 PM

135.25

152.67

141.00

145.00

82.42

656.34

2:00 PM

141.50

153.58

149.83

144.17

70.75

659.83

3:00 PM

112.67

122.33

120.08

113.75

33.08

501.91

4:00 PM

69.08

104.42

84.50

95.42

8.17

361.59

5:00 PM

39.83

70.83

47.92

60.75

1.17

220.50

6:00 PM

40.83

51.42

41.17

31.75

-

165.17

7:00 PM

51.92

64.50

47.25

40.75

-

204.42

8:00 PM

40.58

51.25

36.58

27.67

-

156.08

9:00 PM

13.50

18.67

13.08

12.33

-

57.58

10:00 PM

-

0.50

-

0.50

-

1.00

Total

1,283.74

1,463.42

1,337.57

1,347.84

716.76

6,149.33

Table 4 includes all sections that meet in classrooms, class labs, open labs, conference rooms, and some other spaces. Only classrooms and class labs are regularly scheduled for classes, but the need for additional instructional space required that the many sections meet in alternative space. For example, several sections of philosophy met in the Grafton-Stovall Theatre. The Grafton-Stovall Theatre is not routinely scheduled for classes, but this was the best option for the philosophy sections.

 

Table 5
Number of Classroom Sections in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1996

Hour Beginning

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Total
Class-rooms

7:00 AM

0.75

1.00

2.92

1.00

0.75

121

8:00 AM

66.25

67.42

63.42

72.42

59.25

121

9:00 AM

95.83

85.75

96.83

87.83

89.67

121

10:00 AM

96.83

101.00

96.83

103.25

91.00

121

11:00 AM

99.33

108.67

102.67

111.42

87.75

121

12:00 PM

83.50

102.25

86.58

104.33

68.17

121

1:00 PM

93.42

103.75

99.50

104.58

65.00

121

2:00 PM

92.83

100.75

102.83

101.17

56.83

121

3:00 PM

76.33

82.83

84.33

82.83

26.42

121

4:00 PM

45.83

72.83

58.50

69.83

5.33

121

5:00 PM

27.67

55.25

32.33

48.08

1.00

121

6:00 PM

29.67

35.58

28.50

18.33

 

121

7:00 PM

36.50

44.83

35.83

25.00

 

121

8:00 PM

31.08

35.42

29.25

17.92

 

121

9:00 PM

11.83

14.00

12.42

9.83

 

121

10:00 PM

         

121

TOTAL

 

1,011.33

932.74

957.82

551.17

 

 

 

Table 6
Number of Class Lab Sections in Session
by Time Period and Day,
Fall 1996

Hour
Beginning

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Total Class Labs

7:00 AM

 

0.67

     

49

8:00 AM

11.92

17.33

12.92

13.33

7.92

49

9:00 AM

22.92

26.42

24.58

25.17

14.58

49

10:00 AM

23.92

31.25

24.75

29.25

12.92

49

11:00 AM

26.25

29.50

27.92

25.92

16.58

49

12:00 AM

20.58

22.17

25.25

20.00

11.67

49

1:00 PM

24.92

29.42

27.58

25.08

7.58

49

2:00 PM

33.08

30.92

35.42

26.92

8.08

49

3:00 PM

21.08

22.33

25.58

19.42

4.83

49

4:00 PM

16.33

20.42

19.33

16.83

1.83

49

5:00 PM

11.00

11.92

11.92

9.33

 

49

6:00 PM

8.67

13.08

7.67

11.17

 

49

7:00 PM

10.75

14.75

7.42

12.83

 

49

8:00 PM

7.25

12.50

5.75

8.08

 

49

9:00 PM

1.50

3.67

0.67

1.67

 

49

10:00 PM

 

0.50

 

0.50

 

49

Total

240.17

286.85

256.76

245.50

85.99

49

  • Classrooms (110) are rooms used for classes and that are not tied to specific subject or discipline by equipment in the room or the configuration of the room.

  • Class Laboratories (210) are rooms used primarily for formally or regularly scheduled classes that require special purpose equipment or a specific room configuration for student participation, experimentation, observation, or practice in an academic discipline.

Tables 5 and 6 display classroom utilization by day and hour for the two major types of scheduled space of concern to SCHEV. The purpose of the tables is to show how often space is used during any time period and to compare it with the number of available rooms of that type of space. For example, on Monday 97 out of 121 room hours are scheduled between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. This does not necessarily mean that the 24 classrooms were completely unavailable between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. because there may be a misfit between the needs of a particular section (number of seats, special equipment, etc.) and the room specifications. Frequently a classroom could be used if it were configured correctly for the class. This is the type of scheduling problem that the bulk classroom scheduling program SCHEDULE 25 is designed to reduce.

 

Table 7
Percent Utilization by Room Type and Time,
Fall 1996

Time

Classrooms (110)

Class Labs (210)

7:00 AM

65%

54%

8:00 AM

68%

62%

9:00 AM

71%

67%

10:00 AM

73%

71%

11:00 AM

72%

62%

12:00 PM

75%

69%

1:00 PM

75%

69%

2:00 PM

74%

56%

3:00 PM

73%

56%

4:00 PM

70%

67%

5:00 PM

68%

80%

6:00 PM

59%

87%

7:00 PM

57%

82%

8:00 PM

56%

77%

9:00 PM

53%

58%

10:00 PM

 

47%

Total

70%

67%

Table 7 displays utilization percentages for classrooms and labs. The percentages were calculated by dividing the number of students in a class by the total available seats. Sometimes a room has more students than official seats because unfixed seats sometimes "move" between rooms as needed by a particular class. The results show that more than two-thirds of all seats were filled for each type of space. Again, maximum utilization occurred between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. There are 35 classrooms with 50 or more seats. Their utilization rate did not differ from the smaller classrooms.

Discussion

At a rapidly growing institution like JMU the acquisition of facilities and efficient use of these facilities is a primary concern. This is especially true as the university grew by more than 1,000 students between Fall 1995 and Fall 1996. This study of facilities at JMU focused on how instructional space was used weekly during Fall 1996. Below are the major conclusions of this study.

  • Classroom utilization follows patterns not unlike other higher education institutions. Like Fall 1995, the largest proportion of classes occur between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and Friday classrooms tend to be significantly less scheduled than Monday through Thursday.
  • JMU is one of the top three most efficient users of classroom and lab space in the Commonwealth. Only Virginia Commonwealth University met all of SCHEV's standards for classrooms and class labs. JMU, George Mason University, and the Virginia Community College System met five out of six of the standards. Since the utilization data were conducted in Fall 1996, JMU staff have identified nine underutilized classrooms that should be classified as either conference rooms (8) or class labs (1). The utilization rates should improve due to these reclassifications.
  • There was some improvement in the use of rooms on Friday from Fall 1995, but the scheduling of classes on Monday and Wednesday is a major deterrent to using space more efficiently. More instructional space was used early in the morning, at noon, and in the late afternoon, but there was little improvement in the use of Friday afternoon space. This is major deterrent to the efficient use of instructional space because if more space were used on Friday afternoon, more space would be available during the "prime time" of 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Because instructional space is at a premium, and SCHEV’s formulas for justifying additional space have become even more rigorous, the university must continue to explore ways to enhance the efficient use of instructional space. The university plans to implement an automated classroom scheduling program, SCHEDULE 25, beginning with the Spring 1998 session. Reports from other institutions and the vendor indicate that this program can improve the utilization of space by 10 percent or more.
  • Some classrooms and labs are not scheduled efficiently because they do not meet the instructional needs of the sections being taught. They may be too small, poorly equipped for technology, possess poor lighting, etc. An analysis of the adequacy of instructional space is currently being conducted to determine what types of functional renovations should be made.
  • It can be reasonably concluded from this study that JMU is an efficient user of its space compared with most Virginia institutions, but there is room for improvement. There is instructional space that can be scheduled for the new sections that must be offered in 1997-98, but not at times that have been traditionally scheduled as highly. Growth in total space has generally kept up with enrollment increases so far, but instructional space that can be scheduled has not grown as fast as some other types of space. The enrollment increases expected by 2001-02 will severely stress the use of all space, especially instructional classrooms and residential facilities. The completion of the Phase I academic building on the CISAT campus in Fall 1997 will help, but it is essential that the other academic buildings planned be approved and constructed as quickly as possible.

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