Student Housing Business

SEP-OCT 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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VIE W FROM THE ACADEME September/October 2018 StudentHousingBusiness.com 38 Outside View The Scion Group's Linda Newman brings her on-campus experience to the table as an outside consultant. Interview by Randall Shearin L Linda Newman started her career in student housing on the academic side of the equation and spent more than 30 years in housing and dining administration before joining The Scion Group. Before joining Scion as the company's director of advisory services, she was the senior director of auxiliary services and executive director of housing at the University of Michigan. SHB recently spoke with Newman to find out about her work with Scion, and about her work with the company's university clients. SHB: Tell our readers a little bit about your background. Linda Newman: I have a master's degree in student affairs, and I spent my entire career working in residence life and housing. My first full- time job was at Middlesex Polytechnic in London. I then moved to the United States and worked at the University of South Carolina for eight years. Then I went to Bowling Green State University and was there for about 10 years, and six of those were as director of housing. I moved to the University of Michigan. I was there for nine years, seven of which I was the director of housing and dining. For a couple of years my title was senior director of auxiliary services. My career has been managing residence life, facilities, peo- ple, technology, dining and programming. Technically, I retired in August 2015 and was just going to do an odd project here or there with Scion, but now I'm working on a regu- lar basis. SHB: What types of projects and clients are you working with? Newman: I've done a strategic plan at McGill University in Montreal, and I've done an occupancy management plan at a college in Edmonton, Alberta. In the States, I've done a couple of master plans at Texas State University. Most recently, a market demand analysis for a university to have them look at what comes next. I have done consulting at Santa Rosa Junior College in California and Walla Walla Community College in Washington. SHB: What are some of the challenges that campuses face today? Newman: I think one of the biggest challenges is the cost of an educa- tion facility. How affordable is student housing? On-campus, housing is an auxiliary and oftentimes helps bring the general service charge back to the institution. In the management budget, keeping housing afford- able is a big concern. I was just at Pepperdine University a couple of weeks ago, and this was a big issue for them. It's not just smaller insti- tutions — even the schools that carry a reputation or identity of being expensive private institutions are concerned about the cost of housing and whether that keeps students from choosing the institution or stay- ing off-campus. A lot of schools are trying to figure out at what point on-campus housing becomes too expensive. People are investing lots of money in renovations and new construction, and then it is priced out of the market so students don't live on-campus. SHB: When you were working on-campus, what were some of the issues you dealt with then? Are they similar to or different than what campuses are dealing with today? Newman: I think affordability has been an issue for many years. It was an issue at Bowling Green and Michigan. The years of rate increases every year that we saw in the early 2000s have passed. One of the issues at Michigan was how to keep the rate increases to less than 3 percent, yet pay for the mortgage and renovations, and that put pressure on us to find a way to be more efficient in how we do business. SHB: What are some of the ways that universities are looking to pro- vide a quality student housing and student life environment? What are some of the more innovative elements that you have seen to help enhance that quality of student life? LINDA NEWMAN Director of Advisory Services, The Scion Group

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