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Core Planning Themes

The master planning process illuminated several components of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s campus identity that have shaped and will continue to shape the institution’s physical development. These “core themes” may, in some ways, be similar to those of other college and university campuses. But they fi nd unique expression at UW-Green Bay and are important in setting the context for the master planning elements described in this document. In a sense, they are the focus of dialogue about what UW-Green Bay is and will be.

The Environmental Ethic

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay originally engaged in a novel approach to campus planning that married academic programs, residential life, and the physical campus environment. The program areas focused on environmental research and teaching and the campus was conceived as a holistic university community, with students spending much of their time on campus. The university was heralded for its environmental ethic.

Today, college campuses around the country are grappling with their role in a broader sustainability movement, ranging from purchasing and contracts to embracing social justice and equity to stewardship of the environment. At UW-Green Bay, while many academic programs maintain an environmental emphasis, it no longer provides the integration across programs and operations that it once did. Sustainable design guidelines have been and are being used on new construction and the campus arboretum certainly employs sustainable strategies. For most on campus, though, the environmental ethic finds clearest expression in a commitment to maintaining a green, pastoral campus.

Most immediately, this commitment competes with the social and physical realties of a dependence on automobiles at UW-Green Bay. More students are bringing cars to campus than ever before and the campus continues to provide, at a nominal fee, parking spaces as desired. At the time of this Master Plan, convenient parking and the ability of students to have cars on campus is a positive influence on recruiting. Alternative transit options are limited, as discussed herein. As a result, new projects typically include paving over more of the institution’s highly valued green spaces. This issue is addressed at length in this document.

The Campus Concourse

All constituencies interviewed in this planning process agreed: the concourse system is a major campus asset and must be developed. As a fundamental physical realization of the original master plan, the concourse system links academic buildings to the Cofrin Library and University Union. One of its objectives was to create spaces to foster interaction between students and faculty on a daily basis. It is convenient for users, particularly because of the cold northern climate in which the campus is located, and forms an internal service corridor, thereby eliminating the need for external service access that other campuses struggle to find.

Members of the campus community acknowledge that this asset has its down sides. New designs for buildings, shared spaces, and pathways need to keep these in mind. The concourse restricts sight of the outside environment, reducing orientation and wayfinding cues, and hides campus activity even on a beautiful day. Physically and psychologically, it separates unconnected destinations from each other. It defines a central campus exterior space between Cofrin Library, University Union, Student Services, and Mary Ann Cofrin Hall that is difficult to reach, particularly for visitors, and is an underutilized space in the campus core.

Finally, the additional cost of the interconnect should be included in new project requests.


UW-Green Bay’s 1968 Comprehensive Development Plan laid out the land mass, buildings, and infrastructure for an eventual population of 20,000 students. That enrollment has never been realized, a casualty of the merger of two systems of higher education in the state and budget constraints. The ultimate size of the institution, a longstanding issue at UW-Green Bay, remains on the minds of most of its constituents and is an unresolved issue at the time of publication of this Master Plan.

The campus clearly possesses the land mass and the infrastructure to support growth. Admissions have closed earlier than almost all the other UW campuses for several years. Northeast Wisconsin region is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. The 2005 Master Plan accommodates straight-line projections of growth from 5,500 students to 7,500 based on existing practices. Leaders of the Green Bay community have indicated their strong desire for the university to grow, however the ultimate enrollment, student mix, and timeline for growth have not been resolved by the campus.