Visualize Temple, the new campus development project begun earlier this spring, has started its planning aspect with 270 ideas generated by students, faculty and staff through its new online website.
The site, which is produced by the social media network MindMixer, allows those with a Temple username, as well as alumni, to sign on and post their own thoughts, plans and suggestions for Temple’s future.
James Creedon, senior vice president for construction, facilities and operations, said the response to the website has been “amazing,” adding that more than 1,500 users have participated. Creedon said administrators were not able to categorize who was posting on the site into students, faculty or administrators, but he said the average age of those who are participating is 23.
Creedon said administrators were providing open ended topics to spur discussion such as “future vision” and “what’s missing.” In addition, administrators have posted a topic on Temple’s strengths where respondents can select from a list of answers, and an interactive map titled “physical assets,” where people can pinpoint locations of a map of Temple’s campus that they think are important.
In addition, the 270 ideas created have been ranked on three pages: newest, popular and most discussed.
Among the most popular ideas, The Temple News found that most related to affordability and accessibility, including the site’s most popular idea “Keep Temple Affordable” posted by a Cameron D. S. Other popular ideas in this category included a commuter hub and free shuttle service to center city.
The Temple News also grouped popular posts into the categories of social space and dining options, sports, community, green space and academic programs.
Sports appeared to be the least popular group, with only one idea in the 40 most popular– a new “multi-functional athletic stadium,” posted by an Audrey A. S.
Kathy Lehman, a supervisor of circulation and reserves at Paley Library, was one of the creator’s of the site’s 270 ideas. Lehman’s idea, “More investment in community outreach,” was seventh most popular at press time, with 110 views and 5 comments.
“I love this University,” said Lehman, a 1994 alumna, in an email. “I think we’re well on our way to becoming a great university in many ways and I think one of our strengths versus say, Penn or Drexel, has always been our engagement with the city itself.”
In addition to the website, administrators sent out a survey to student email accounts on the specific topic of housing. Creedon said that they had received more than 600 responses from that survey.
The responses from the survey and the website will go to administrators including President Neil Theobald and those working to develop specific plans for Visualize Temple, Creedon said.
However, with no official plans on any projects for Visualize Temple set to come out until the fall semester at the earliest, some question whether administrators will use the grassroots ideas from the website to a full extent. It’s unclear how many of the ideas are being contributed by students.
“I am trying to restrain my cynicism as a long-time Temple employee, i.e, regarding the lack of response I’ve received in the past from administrators regarding my ideas about the issue of community outreach,” said Lehman. “I don’t think President Theobold would have begun this project if he weren’t genuinely seeking to engage with the ideas of the Temple community, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the candor of some administrators’ comments on the site.”
For the summer, Creedon said that administrators will continue to monitor the site and post new topics for students to respond to, as well as responding in comments to ideas already posted.
“I encourage everyone to log in to Visualize Temple if you have not already and join the discussion. If you are already participating, keep participating and providing comments, dialogue and more ideas,” Creedon said.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.