How Bowling Green State University aligned classroom inventory with curriculum needs

In 2012, Bowling Green State University began an institution-wide initiative to ensure the physical campus better reflected a changing student profile. While a significant portion of the updated campus plan centered on modifications to teaching and learning platforms, Bowling Green also used the opportunity to reduce classroom inventory.

Reducing classroom space without compromising academic quality

To determine how aggressive they should be, administrators at Bowling Green began with an initiative to calculate how many classrooms they could take offline without detracting from academic programming.

When Bowling Green began the initiative in 2012, the institution had 191 classrooms, 1,900 sections, and an average classroom utilization rate of 60%. Academic leaders knew that they needed to identify opportunities for better utilization. They implemented four initiatives to reclaim underutilized space:

  • Eliminate low-census and low-demand courses from the curriculum
  • Consolidate low-census sections and multi-section courses
  • Increase station size to accommodate active learning pedagogies
  • Use the full academic week to ensure courses meet between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays

Based on the data and assumptions, administrators determined that within four years they could condense their number of classrooms to 147—a 23% reduction.

With this estimate in mind, Bowling Green worked to reduce their classroom count on campus. Over the course of four years, administrators consolidated day and night schedules into a single academic day and upgraded over 80 classrooms on campus. Furthermore, senior leaders consolidated small, adjacent rooms into larger classrooms to support more active learning opportunities, strategically reducing their percentage of underutilized classrooms.

By 2016, Bowling Green was just shy of its 2012 estimate, ultimately reducing their number of classrooms to 150, still a 21% reduction.

Increase classroom capacities

Moving forward, Bowling Green hopes to continue to decrease total classrooms on campus to an ultimate goal of 114, a 40% reduction from 2012. As the chart below shows, Bowling Green will accomplish this by reducing the number of classrooms of most sizes while still increasing the number of 15 and 100 person classrooms, which are the most in-demand classroom sizes.

Distribution of Classrooms by Maximum Seat Capacity
2016 vs. Future Target

Distribution of classrooms

These changes align with Bowling Green’s strategic goals of both reducing the campus classroom footprint while also maximizing remaining space on campus to align with active learning pedagogy.

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