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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Research Space Policy



May 4, 2010


In order for the VCEA to successfully recruit, hire, and retain the highest quality faculty, research staff, and students, we must optimize the use of all of our limited resources, including the space provided by the University in support of faculty research. Research space must be allocated on the basis of greatest productivity, potential, and strategic priorities – it is not an entitlement, nor is its assignment to be viewed as permanent. In fact, the space utilized by VCEA is not “owned” by the VCEA but rather it is owned by the University, and its management is administered centrally. There is no college-, department-, or program-owned space, so it is incumbent upon us to make the best possible use of the space we are provided. This means that we must be able to assign, or re-assign, the appropriate quantity and quality of space based upon current usage, greatest need, and strategic priorities. Our use of the space provided to us by WSU must be “fluid”, and decisions regarding space must be based upon the most current and accurate information available, as well as the imminent space needs of all units.

Recognizing this, however, it should also be noted that acting on requests for additional or different research space may require significant lead times. Fulfilling a request for additional research space will involve: (1) analysis of the merits of the request, based upon productivity, potential, and strategic priorities; (2) identifying potential spaces; (3) analyzing both the requirements associated with the new request as well as the current use of targeted spaces; (4) negotiating both the release and reassignment of the space to higher priority or more productive programs; and (5) the timetable involved. Similarly, remodeling or renovation of research space, the resources for which are limited, also requires substantial lead times to allow for obtaining the funding, as well as planning and completing the work.

The VCEA Research Space Allocation and Management Guidelines include procedures for maintaining an accurate space inventory, allocation or re-allocation of space, and renovation requests. This policy will apply to all college-controlled space that supports faculty research including office space, graduate student spaces, other student spaces, and research laboratories.


Office Spaces


  1. State-funded teaching/research, tenure-track or tenured faculty
  2. Non-tenure-track faculty and other funded adjunct faculty
  3. Full-time professional exempt (instructors, research associates, postdocs) and visiting faculty
  4. Classified staff
  5. Emeritus faculty


All office spaces must be identified with the occupant(s) on the annual space inventory report, and any changes during the year must be reported to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs (referred to hereafter as Associate Dean).

Graduate Student Spaces


  1. PhD students funded on cohort-directed training grants
  2. Funded research assistants, PhD
  3. Funded teaching assistants, PhD
  4. Funded teaching or research assistants, MS
  5. Self-funded research assistants, PhD
  6. Self-funded research assistants, MS
  7. Non-matriculated graduate students
  8. Irregular help/work study (graduate students)


  1. Locating graduate student desks in laboratories is discouraged.
  2. Graduate students assignment in faculty office spaces is discouraged.
  3. Graduate students should be assigned, to the extent possible, to larger rooms that have been furnished to accommodate the maximum number of desks allowable, using WSU space guidelines (i.e., ~75 sq ft per graduate student).
  4. Where possible, proximity to the appropriate colleagues (e.g., research team members, IGERT fellows on the same training grant) should be maintained.
  5. All graduate student space must be accurately characterized in terms of the number of desks and the students assigned to each graduate student room. Regular office space that is used for graduate students can be reallocated at any time for higher priority use, including use by another department, based upon discussion with the Dean.
  6. Given our growing needs for high quality space as both our research and graduate education programs grow, high-quality space that is suitable for graduate student offices, faculty offices, or computer laboratories is to be prioritized over uses for undergraduate student clubs or lounges.
  7. Space that was previously used for graduate student space but that has been converted to a lower priority use will be assumed to be unneeded by the unit previously using that space, and it will revert to the control of the Dean and the Space Committee for re-allocation. This is effective immediately, and is based upon space use as of this date (May 4, 2010).

Research Laboratories


  1. Externally funded research
  2. Research involving PhD students and postdocs
  3. Research involving MS students or other research staff
  4. Research involving undergraduate students


  1. All research space, including computer laboratories, will be identified and classified according to quality, square footage, special features (e.g., hoods, benches, etc.), current assignment, and number and type of researcher using the space (e.g., graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, research faculty beyond the PI). Any changes will be reported to the Associate Dean by the third week of each semester, including summer session, for the purposes of keeping the space inventory current. The space inventory will be updated formally on an annual basis, even if no changes were reported in the past 12 months.
  2. Research space will be assigned and/or re-allocated based upon current, pending, and anticipated externally sponsored research obligations, taking into account research funding both internal and external to the unit and/or college.
  3. The research needs of the research-active faculty will be matched to the extent possible to the facilities of particular laboratories, and facilities will be assigned and/or re-allocated in order to accommodate funded research needs while minimizing renovation costs.
  4. To the extent possible, research spaces used by a particular faculty member will be maintained in proximity to one another.
  5. In general, laboratory space will be assigned by the unit chairs and directors based upon need and availability.
    1. It should be noted, however, that research space will not be assigned solely on the basis of department affiliation.
    2. Any change in use of a research laboratory may trigger a reverting of that space to the control of the Dean for possible reallocation to higher priority use. This includes, but is not limited to, discontinuation of external research funding, redirection of research programs, and faculty departures or retirements.
  6. Due to the severe shortage of high quality space in VCEA, the following guidelines may apply:
    1. Faculty who haven’t had any external funding during the previous three year period will be given lower priority for lab space than those with current funding.
    2. Faculty who have external funding, but have not utilized their labs within their funded research programs during the previous three year period will be given lower priority for lab space than those with current funding.


  1. The VCEA Space Committee, chaired by the Associate Dean is responsible for annual space utilization report, as well as any other space reports required by the university (e.g., those required for review of F&A rates). The unit leaders (department chairs, school or center directors) are responsible for insuring that the Space Committee receives accurate information in a timely fashion.
  2. Conference room and departmentally-controlled classrooms should be made available to any unit in the college. Because of proximity, priority will naturally reside with the unit to which the room is assigned. Computer tools, such as Outlook, should be used to the extent possible to enable the efficient scheduling of such rooms.
  3. All research laboratories, computer laboratories, offices, graduate student offices, undergraduate student offices, and unit-controlled classrooms must have a nameplate that identifies the occupant(s), PI, emergency contact, and purpose.
  4. High quality space that would be suitable as research space will not be used for storage or other non-research activities.
  5. Shared space, especially among interdisciplinary groups, is encouraged. The sharing of space will be reflected on space utilization studies by attributing the space to each PI according to a reasonable estimate of their actual research conducted in that space, and the attribution will sum to 100% of the research activity in the space.
  6. For purposes of prioritizing space utilization, metrics associated with the last 3 years’ of research productivity (e.g., research funding, PhD and postdoc advising, other graduate student advising, peer reviewed publications) and attributed to a given space will be considered.
  7. In the case of growing programs, potential as well as strategic priority will be considered instead of previous productivity metrics.
  8. Research expenditures should be attributed as accurately as possible (summing to 100% of the total for each VCEA researcher) to the appropriate laboratories or other space (e.g., computer laboratories).
  9. Productivity metrics apply to the shared spaces as well, and the sum of these metrics over all the space presently occupied by faculty must also sum to 100%.
  10. For laboratories that also support undergraduate teaching activities, the attribution of space to teaching will reflect the actual number of contact hours conducted in that specific space.
  11. For future reallocations of space, the quality of space, as well as specific features of that space (e.g., hoods, high ceilings, strong floors), will be considered, with the intention of matching needs to laboratory features, minimizing laboratory renovation costs, providing appropriate amounts of space to the highest productivity (as measured by research funding, PhD student advising, peer reviewed publications) faculty/programs, and placing high priority programs in the best quality space possible.


Requests for space should first be directed to the department chair or school director. Any change in use of a space, occupant(s), PI, or purpose must be communicated to the Associate Dean at the time of the change. The Associate Dean must, in turn, notify the Dean. If a department seeks additional space beyond that which its faculty already utilizes, a request should be directed to the Dean. This process will trigger a review of both the space presently utilized by that department, as well as a review of any space that the department requests.

Requests may be denied when it is deemed that the unit can accommodate its space needs internally, or if the dean’s office assigns a lower priority to that request. The request may also be deferred if the unit’s expressed need has not yet materialized, or if other reallocations are anticipated.

Similarly, changes in use of a space may be overridden by the dean’s office if a higher priority has need for that quality and quantity of space.