Even though bulldozers have yet to begin to move dirt yet, work on the Landings at Terra Village student housing complex is being done behind the scenes.  On June 20, eighteen members of the Terra State Community College administration, staff, faculty and students came together for a “compression planning session” to determine how the college will successfully support students in on-campus housing.  The meeting was facilitated by Binns Drennon, LLC who plans strategies for non-profits and community colleges.

Jeff Huffman, Executive Director of Campus Services, who is the leader of the student housing construction project found the compression planning session an ideal way to begin.  “Instead of having ten to twenty meetings, we were able to sort through the ideas and break down into groups to create a priority list of what needs to be accomplished in the first year to get ready.”

Heath Martin, Assistant Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services, assisted Binn Drennon in creating the agenda for the meeting.  “The first part of the day was a visioning exercise in deciding what kind of environment does the college want to provide our on-campus students.”  There were twelve elements identified that include evening and weekend activities that build community, a home-like atmosphere, programs that ensure safety, a welcoming campus and an inclusive culture.

The group also focused on what does an “ideal” college experience look like for the Terra State on-campus student population.  “Fourteen elements were identified for this,” Martin continued.  “Nice amenities like technology and lounges, the sense that people care about each student, students being engaged in decision-making and embracing diversity were some of the elements brought up.”

“You can only do so much in a year,” Martin stated.  “So we tried to identify the top four or five things to do to enhance programs and services that we already have at Terra State.”  Expanding office hours, expanding current student life activities, increasing student employment opportunities, extending class offerings through Saturday and the expansion of the current Campus Safety Department to 24/7 operations were pinpointed.  New programs, services and activities were identified, too.  Those included a campus shuttle system, creating a Campus Activities Board, regular evening programming and developing a fully integrated student ID system.

The group also looked at ways to ensure the emotional and physical well-being of on-campus students.  According to Martin, the College will look to develop a memorandum of understanding with a community health care provider to provide on-campus student health services.  Additionally, the College will research establishing lighting, security cameras and emergency phones for a safer environment.

As brick and mortar work gets underway, the needed behind the scenes work will continue as Terra State continues its dynamic transformation.  In less than a year, Terra State will become only the second community College in Ohio to offer student housing.  This will only go to further to ensure the college is the best rural community college in the nation.