From its founding in 1959, York University has become Canada’s third-largest university, with 54,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff. Over a period of several years, York increasingly faced the challenges of competing priorities for funding deferred maintenance for aging buildings, substantial off-campus housing options and the need to adapt to changing trends and expectations of students. In late 2010, the University engaged Scion to create a Student Housing Master Plan that encompassed housing on its two campuses in the Greater Toronto Area.
Scion’s work included a comprehensive market and demand analysis, review of existing operations, business planning and implementation strategies for both the Keele and Glendon campuses. Virtually all student groups were examined, including first-year, upper-year, graduate and family cohorts. The influence on housing from business functions, academics and student affairs were also incorporated into the master housing plan recommendations.
In 2011, Scion’s role was expanded to further enhance the master plan by examining current and desirable academic connections to campus housing. Scion assessed the role of student housing in supporting the York’s academic mission and strategic direction, particularly in light of the vision of University Provost Patrick Monahan as stated in Building a More Engaged University: Strategic Directions for York University 2010-2020.
“The contributions by Scion to our planning process were substantial,” said Debbie Kee, Director of York University Housing Services. “They began with expertise in the field but, because they are independent, Scion was unrestricted by any campus politics. As a result, we have a master housing plan linked to institutional goals that keeps enhancement of the student experience as its top priority. We are continuing to use that plan as a map for many campus follow-up conversations around future housing plans.”