Planning for Higher Education Journal

Tragedy of the Commons: Who Owns Classroom Space?

Journal Cover
From Volume 27 Number 4 | Summer 1999
By Sona Andrews, Dennis L. Stecker, Don Weill, Wayland H. Winstead

Institutions referenced in this resource:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This case study describes the proces used at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee (UWM) to develop a budget for maintaining general assignment classrooms that are centrally controlled and scheduled. The genesis of the problem with general assignment clasrooms is framed within the context of the "Tragedy of the Commons" described by Peter Senge in The Fifth Dimension. At UWM this resulted in the gradual deterioration of the quality iof the general assigenment classrooms and a corresponding backlog of deferred maintenance items. To redres the situation, the Provost's Office assumed "ownership" of the general assignment classrooms and became an advocate for them in the budget process. To ensure appropriate maintenance of both the spce and equipment in the general assigenment classrooms, we developed a maintenance budget using a simple depreciation model applied to a wide array of assest in the classrooms. We also did a separate financial analysis to determine how this budget should change as we deploy sophisticated instructional technologies in our general assignment classrooms. The methods we used in this analysis can be used by other colleges and universities seeking a better understanding of the costs of maintaining bothe the general physical enviroment and the instructional technology in classrooms.

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