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Updated 9:00 AM April 15, 2009

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Guidelines to help manage research space

Deans and other administrators have a new tool to help them manage research space on the Ann Arbor campus: research space guidelines.
The Biomedical Science Research Building opened in February 2006. (Photo by Lin Jones, U-M Photo Services)

The guidelines were implemented as part of the U-M Space Utilization Initiative, launched in 2007, to explore how instructional, research, administrative and other space is used on the Ann Arbor campus, and to manage this space more effectively to meet the university's mission and needs.

Developed jointly by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for Research, the new guidelines establish a common philosophy and guiding principles that encourage efficient and productive use of all research space used to support the university's core research mission. The guidelines also provide schools, colleges and other research units with the foundation for developing more specific research space guidelines to support individual unit needs.

"The rationale, terms and conditions for research space assignments vary widely within units and across the campus, as expected for such a diversity of research activities that take place at Michigan.

"But, the rationale for many space decisions may not always be clear to our faculty. We believe that these new guidelines offer principles that will help us allocate research space efficiently and fairly," says Steve Ceccio, associate vice president for research.

Ceccio anticipates that having explicit guidelines also will help with faculty recruitment.

"U-M needs to be clear with incoming faculty about the size and type of space they will be provided and the duration of the space assignment so that new faculty members can begin their research activities without undue delay. We recommend that all commitment letters be both specific and realistic with respect to the amount of space to be provided and the time needed to prepare the space," Ceccio says.

The guidelines also call for a periodic review of research space use and productivity by current faculty members, taking different measures into consideration. To address the usage and productivity needs that vary by department and discipline, units strongly are encouraged to develop their own internal research space guidelines that align with the campus guidelines.

Even though research lab space represents only 9 percent of all campus space, it is a critical institutional resource that has to be optimized and managed strategically to support continually changing research needs in spaces that are not always flexible, says Space Utilization Initiative Project Manager Frances Mueller.

"We believe that the new guidelines will provide unit administrators with institutional guidance for many research space decisions and will provide faculty and staff with a better understanding of the rationale that goes into these decisions," concludes Ceccio.

For more information about the Research Space Guidelines or Space Utilization Initiative, go to

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