Ohio Wesleyan University, founded in 1842, offers a diverse range of undergraduate programs emphasizing liberal arts education. With a small student body of approximately 1,600 undergraduates, the university fosters a close-knit community and provides personalized attention from faculty. Known for its academic excellence and vibrant campus life, OWU is located in Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus.

Background 

After completing significant renovations to one of seven on-campus Greek houses, Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) recognized equity concerns with the differing levels of quality and accessibility among various fraternities and sororities. OWU engaged Scion to collect input from students, OWU staff, alumnae, and chapter staff to identify priorities for future sorority spaces, provide potential options, estimate costs, and recommend next steps to advance identified priorities, emphasizing affordability. Following this analysis, OWU engaged Scion to conduct a Strategic Housing Plan to provide a similar level of detail for all residential facilities and to make recommendations for the evolution of the on-campus experience to improve recruitment and retention – an institution-wide priority.

Analysis 

Scion conducted focus groups, surveyed students, toured campus facilities, and met with stakeholders. The team developed multiple options for transforming the residential core of campus with alternative housing approaches, including chapter spaces for Greek students. Integrating a recent facilities analysis and comparative data on renovation costs, the analysis included estimated project budgets and phasing approaches for each option. Together, each of the five options prioritized the institutional priorities for university housing, as defined at the beginning of the engagement. OWU sought a plan that would enhance the first- and second-year experience, ensure developmentally appropriate housing options, minimize deferred maintenance, provide a more equitable Greek experience, and create purposeful outdoor spaces.

Results 

The University is moving forward with one of the proposed options for renovating and enhancing the housing system, building upon prior investment in select housing options prior to Scion’s engagement.  In part due to the improved residential program, retention at the University has increased to levels not seen in almost a generation.  In particular, improved first-year housing has been instrumental in generating a strong sense of community and student engagement.

 

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