The University Record, April 15, 1998

SCUP draws on interdisciplinary nature of the University

Fred Mayer, assistant director of capital planning and university planner, was awarded the Society for College and University Planning's (SCUP) Founder's "Casey" Award for Distinguished Achievement in Higher Education Planning. The award recognizes achievement in higher education planning and contributions to literature, development of planning models, and other achievements that raise the standards of planning theory and practice. Photo Services file photo


By Kerry Colligan

"The core of professional associations of the future is information technology," says Terry Calhoun, who is an editor in the School of Education and in charge of electronic media for the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), which is headquartered at the U-M. "When you think about what professional associations are all about--sharing ideas, information and expertise, and communicating them--that's what the Internet is all about."

Calhoun supports SCUP's award winning Web site. In March, SCUP's online magazine Plan Ahead won Microsoft Corporation's "Education Site of the Month," because it "makes a sizable contribution to the information available concerning issues of planning in higher education."

The Chronicle of Higher Education also recently recognized the site in its information technology section.

In addition to jobs postings, requests for proposals, and links to planning and budget and resource departments, the SCUP site will soon include a 1,500-article searchable database.

Despite the scope of information available, Calhoun is not completely satisfied with the site. Accessibility, he says, could be better. "If you code your html a certain way, there are programs out there that read Web pages to blind people. We don't have the resources to do that." They are, however, translating some of the program information into French and Spanish.

Calhoun is grateful for the award. It is, he says, "a strong community builder," providing a positive means of interaction between the association and its members.

SCUP was formed in 1966 by four campus planners were brainstorming about a planning knowledge base that could be shared with colleagues. The first gatherings primarily drew facilities planners, but the organization quickly grew to include academic and financial planners. It adopted the credo of "integrated planning" long before the days of interdisciplinary teams, and the concept remains one of its strengths.

Focused on "the promotion, advancement, and application of effective planning in higher education," SCUP's members include facilities, budget, academic and environmental planners and scholars, and public and private corporations.

In recent years, many members have embraced the concept of higher education institutions as businesses due to increasing competition in higher education. Though the trend may never be fully accepted by traditional institutions, the competitive environment is a factor driving SCUP's current activity.

This summer, SCUP will sponsor a professional conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. More than 1,000 planning professionals will attend "Crossing Boundaries--Making Connections" to discuss such topics as brand building in marketing efforts and effective tools for evaluating strategic plans.

SCUP's value to the campus community most likely is widespread. "Most people on campus have never heard of SCUP," says Heidi Davis, member services director. "But the people they work with who are engaged in planning, either are interested in SCUP membership, or are people whose professional lives SCUP is in some way trying to enhance by providing a publication, workshop or professional conference.

The society is an affiliate of the School of Education and, according to Jolene Knapp, executive director, boasts a rapidly growing membership that she attributes in part to visibility gained via the Internet. The 4,100 members from 22 countries represent more than 700 higher education institutions and related organizations. It is supported by an eight-member staff and an army of work-study students at its Plymouth Road offices.

For more information about SCUP and its programs, visit the award-winning Web site at