Since it opened its doors in 1968, enrollment at the BGSU Firelands campus has grown significantly, reaching an all-time high this fall of more than 2,500 students, with more expected. To accommodate this growth and prepare for the future, the BGSU Board of Trustees at its Dec. 10 meeting approved a Master Plan for capital improvements for Firelands’ facilities needs over the next 15 years.
The plan projects the eventual need for up to three new, 60,000 square foot academic buildings, one of which will be an Allied Health Sciences building to accommodate the campus’s growing health-related degree programs and related laboratories. Also outlined is a “Learning Commons” to provide academic support services to students.
The campus now has four buildings on about 216 acres, serving the communities of Erie, Huron and Ottawa counties and beyond. The number of degree programs has expanded over the years, including several four-year degrees in conjunction with sister colleges on the main campus and a number of vocational degrees such as radiologic technology.
Firelands’ campus growth is planned in three phases, based on projected square-footage growth and renovation of existing space.
The first phase is aimed at accommodating an enrollment of about 3,000 students and the first of the new academic buildings, an allied health science/academic facility.
The campus will start fund-raising with the support of main campus. Beginning with the $2 milion-$3 million Firelands already has in hand, it has a variety of funding options, from a public/private partnership similar to what main campus is using for residential and dining services to selling bonds.
Phase two of the master plan addresses the needs of the projected 3,000-4,000 students over 15 years and includes the second of the 60,0000 square-foot buildings and more classroom upgrades.
The third phase represents the long-term growth strategy and prepares the campus for a total of 5,000 students, about 4,200 of whom are predicted to be on campus with the rest taking classes at current satellite locations in Sandusky and Norwalk as well as online degree classes. The third new building would be built during this phase along with additional parking areas.
Tsoi Kobus, the master planning consulting firm that helped develop the master plan for the Bowling Green campus, assisted BGSU Firelands in assessing the adequacy of its existing academic and administrative facilities in relation to projected growth and the needs of the community.