Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mall or University?

The Miami Herald writes that the University of Central Florida's newest residence halls have retailers at their doorsteps. Chain stores such as Maggie Moo's, Subay, Starbucks, Red Brick Oven Pizza, Barnes & Noble and other retailers have opened on campus so students don't need to go far to spend their cash. Earlier, most colleges (including Kansas State University, where I went) had a campus store selling college memerobilia, textbooks and other supplies. We also had a few food chains at the Union along with the university food service.

Now it seems, retailers have upped the ante to catch students where they spend most of their time anyway, making the university look increasingly like a mall. UCF has its own little shopping centre opening in a few weeks, attatched to the dorms and across the basketball arena.
Though nearby college towns with quirky health food and rare-book stores have long been a staple at traditional universities, many schools are placing retail on campus and collecting rents to subsidize operations and attract students. At UCF, money from the dorms, shops and a pair of parking garages is subsidizing the 10,000-seat basketball arena.

''We're a public university, but we want to adopt some of the best practices of the private sector,'' said Bill Merck, vice president for administration and finance at UCF.

Florida Atlantic University's board of trustees began moving in the same direction Tuesday. Trustees discussed ''Innovation Village,'' a proposed complex of dorms and retail stores designed around a proposed football stadium at the Boca Raton campus.

In a study, administrators learned many students were rejecting FAU to attend UCF, Florida State and the University of Florida -- in part because those schools offer more campus life. And FAU defines that to include a shopping district.

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