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" There are 167 roofs on the campus," says Tennent, " with some of the buildings dating back 100 years. Often they have only minimal insulation, and any damage just makes their thermal effi ciency even worse. By focusing on the roofs and bringing them up to the highest buildings standards, we have an immediate impact on running costs. Money for the roof restoration has come from a federal and provincial funding program totaling $ 15 million." As mentioned earlier, none of this remedial work is exclusive to U of S, but the analytical approach adopted by the university is now being applied by the provincial government, which is faced with exactly the same issue of using scarce resources in the most effective manner. Getting things done on the basis of which wheel is squeaking loudest will probably never be entirely eradicated, but at least now administrators have some objective means of comparing institutional needs on an equal footing. " Improving the learning experience" is a catch-all phrase that essentially means, in part, keeping customers happy. For example, food services on campus are being revamped. Traditional and more modern versions of fast food are on hand, as well as more healthy options for the more discerning. Perhaps, though, the addition to campus life creating the greatest interest is the new Learning Commons. " We've known for some time that modern students learn in quite different ways from the past," says Tennent. " In place of the solitary learning of yesteryear, we're catering to more group- oriented learning. The Learning Commons is about as far removed from the traditional library as you can get." Students are no longer hassled about not eating and drinking while studying; in fact, there is a coffeehouse in the center itself. Break- out rooms, geared toward project topics, are available for the use of small groups. Designated areas have been created to improve core skills such as math and languages. Certain courses have been found to benefi t from interdisciplinary involvement, and every part of the new center has been designed with natural materials to provide a warm, inviting presence. Also new- as part of the upgraded facilities for students- is an addition to and an extensive renovation of Place Riel, the student union building, featuring more meeting space and a much- needed student health and counseling center. " We were University of Saskatchewan I t's a buyer's market in the world of tertiary education. Competition is rife, and woe betide any organization that disregards the purchasing power of students- or their parents. On the other hand, competition raises standards and encourages innovation, and if it doesn't actually drive down prices, then at least it leads to better value for money. The Board of Governors at the University of Saskatchewan ( U of S) is only too aware of this, and only too aware that a lot of facilities on the U of S campus are approaching or past their sell-by date. Squaring these two competing needs has been keeping Colin Tennent, university architect and associate vice- president, facilities management, incredibly busy. Essentially, the work his department handles falls into one of three camps: bringing the resources of the university up to standard, supporting and improving the learning experience, and building new facilities. Interestingly, it's only in the past fi ve years or so that the fi rst category would even be on the agenda practically anywhere in the country. " Comparable institutions, cities and private companies everywhere," says Tennent, " have let their building stock fall into disrepair. It's all too easy to defer maintenance to the point where it creeps up on you and becomes of critical concern." Today, levels of awareness are considerably higher, as is the willingness to do something about it. This new level of concern was brought into focus when the U of S hosted a conference for the Association of University Architects, represented by campus architects from across North America under the theme " Art of Balance." As part of his address, Tennent described the six- year- long assessment and logging of university buildings, which provided the detailed raw data needed by administrators to make meaningful decisions on how and where scarce funds should be used. At the U of S, Tennent found that 60 percent of all complaints involved inadequate roofs and recommended that, though this wasn't the area that needed the most dollars, it ought to be where attention should be focused fi rst, arguing that roof damage was not only a distraction to the learning process, it could also compromise research work being undertaken and certainly increase running costs for the university. August 09 www. bus- ex. com 127