Academic Senate Considers Space Policies and Principles

The Academic Senate has long been concerned about Space at UCSF, given the University’s expansion and development of the Mission Bay campus site and other initiatives. Such rapid growth inevitably has been accompanied by some friction between the administration and the faculty, with the most often cited concern being Mission Hall. Over the past few years, the Academic Senate has worked hard to not only address space issues, but, perhaps more importantly, to better organize itself to nimbly respond to and interface with the evolving administrative space governance structure. Concerns over the 2012 Space Governance Policy and Principles prompted the Senate to establish a standing Committee on Space. This committee consolidated its various Senate representatives to campus space committees and ad-hoc building development committees, thus replacing a practice of informal, ad-hoc reporting that previously resulted in a less than optimal feedback loop back to Senate leadership. As Srikantan Nagarajan, the first Chair of the Committee on Space, commented, “Prior to the creation of the Senate Committee on Space, the Senate representation on space was a bit unclear. There was a need to provide a cohesive point for all Senate communications on campus space issues, especially with several new building projects taking place.” 

In the last year, the University has responded in a meaningful way to UCSF’s research space needs and challenges. In August 2017, EVCP Lowenstein established the Research and Administrative Space Policy Working Group (RASP) as a temporary task force designed to address the growing sense of urgency around the efficiency of UCSF’s research and administrative space use. RASP was specifically charged with 1) recommending metrics and associated targets to objectively measure the utilization and productivity of campus research and administrative space; 2) recommending revisions to campus space policy; and 3) revising space governance structure and clarifying roles and responsibilities. The Senate actively participated in the RASP process, and has recently made extensive comments on the recently released RASP report. A bulleted summary of the comments from the Committee on Academic Planning and Budget and the Committee on Space on the RASP report is provided in the breakout box.

The Committee on Academic Planning and Budget (APB) and the Committee on Space (SPC) offered the following recommendations in support of the RASP Report.

  • APB and SPC fully endorse the use of a dashboard for quantitative econometric evaluation of research productivity and qualitative academic impact metrics in mission critical areas.
  • Possible academic impact metrics include research and creative activity, translational science on diagnostics and treatment, UCSF’s reputation, team science, teaching and mentoring in research space, and university/community service.
  • Administrators and faculty should agree upon appropriate weightings of quantitative and qualitative metrics for specific research programs to promote best practices in internal control, and campus diversity and inclusion.
  • The revised Space Governance Policy should stipulate that detailed data would be used at the level of units, departments, and control points, but not at the level of individual faculty member.
  • The Space Committee recommended that data be collected annually by administrators, with input from individual faculty members.
  • UCSF may wish to administer a one-year pilot to refine processes for implementation of the dashboard.

Send comments to

In making its comments, the Senate appreciates EVCP Lowenstein’s leadership in creating this task force, and lauds the work of RASP members. While the Senate feels that the RASP metrics will eventually inform space allocation policy at UCSF in the research sphere, a gap remains with respect to a holistic space policy that would also address academic space for clinicians (for non-direct patient care activities) and education space. To address this gap, in January 2018 the Senate created two specialized task forces charged with proposing core principles and making key recommendations in these spheres – the Academic Space for Clinicians Policy Task Force and the Educator and Education Space Policy Task Force. Reports from both task forces have now been released. The Senate believes that the principles laid out can inform the development of a holistic space policy that encompasses the research, teaching, and clinical missions of the University.

The principles described by these two task forces are very closely-aligned. For the clinician, the Senate espouses the following in allocating administrative space: transparency, fairness, consistency, economic sustainability, strategic prioritization to align with all UCSF missions (i.e., patient care, research, education, administration/leadership, and service), thereby enabling faculty and staff success. In espousing these principles, the Academic Space for Clinicians Policy Task Force urges UCSF leaders to seek input about space design, assignment, oversight, and governance from representative clinical faculty and staff who perform non-direct patient care activities (i.e., include as members on space development, management and building governance committees). Emerging from these principles is the key recommendation that every UCSF faculty member have a private assigned office for non-direct patient care activities at their primary UCSF site, with hotel space available at any other locations where the clinician works. While 75 sf would be the minimum private office size for conducting non-patient care activities for technical and senior professional work, 90 to 100 sf is the standard private office size and would be more conducive to enabling faculty success and morale. However, a private office should not be construed as necessarily being a single room dedicated to only one person for their exclusive use. Rather, a private office refers to access to a room separated from the open office environment that ensures privacy for confidential work, sensitive discussions, and quiet reflection. It can be shared by one or more members of the faculty, but must meet the needs of those faculty members.

Likewise, the Educator and Education Space Policy Task Force recommends that all four components of the academic enterprise (education, research, clinical care, and administration) be considered when assigning existing educational space and creating new space, and include appropriate input from educators throughout the entire process of design, assignment, building, furnishing, oversight, and management. Education space assignments across educational programs should consider the needs of all programs involved, and space shared across the professional schools should promote interdisciplinary educational and clinical experiences. Education space design should also be responsive, sensitive, and adaptable to evolving advances in education and pedagogy, especially with respect to technology, by assessing and mapping the potential educational activities as part of the initial design of such space. Two recommendations of importance concern the governance and scheduling of educational space. First, UCSF educators (“Education Space Liaisons”) should be included in the membership of all UCSF space design, assignment, oversight, and utilization/management committees. Second, the Senate proposes developing and instituting a unified, seamless, and transparent education space reservation/real-time use/cancellation system that crosses the campus and UCSF Health.

The Senate remains committed to true shared governance with respect to space policy. For the 2018-19 academic year, the Senate is looking forward to active consultation with the senior UCSF leadership on Space issues. The Senate also maintains a number of representatives on the various campus space governance committees, including the UCSF Space Committee and the UCSF Space Management Subcommittee. More information on Space news and developments at UCSF can be found at the University’s Space@UCSF site.

< Back to September 2018 Newsletter