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2021 Campus Plan Overview

American University’s five-year strategic plan, Changemakers for a Changing World, offers a bold vision for the university, drawing upon AU’s legacy of scholarship, learning, and community while taking advantage of the university’s strengths – a campus located in the nation’s capital, a robust environment in scholarship and experiential learning, a growing academic reputation with a foundation in teaching excellence, and worldwide connections with leaders and organizations that elevate AU’s profile and are a platform for scholarly impact. 

As an integral component in the successful implementation of the strategic plan, the 2021 Campus Plan will set forth a thoughtful and measured approach to managing campus growth and development over the next ten years in a manner that reflects the university’s commitment to the communities of which it is a part. At the same time, the new Campus Plan will also inform the key priorities of an ambitious fundraising campaign that will capitalize on AU’s momentum as an emerging global university to support the study and scholarship of American University students and faculty for generations to come. 

Campus plans are required by the DC Zoning Regulations for universities located in residentially-zoned areas, and address the parameters for a university’s planned growth in areas including enrollment, facilities development, on-campus housing, off-campus/neighborhood quality of life issues, and transportation and parking. The fundamental components of the 2021 Campus Plan have been envisioned and developed in partnership with university and community stakeholders, to ensure that the campus will adapt to and meet the changing needs of AU students, faculty, and staff while at the same time respecting an enhancing the quality of life for those who live within the neighborhoods surrounding campus. It is AU’s fundamental goal that the 2021 Campus Plan successfully accomplish both of these objectives.

The AU Neighborhood Partnership plays a key role in the University’s ongoing planning process. The Partnership is a collaboration between neighborhood residents and AU staff who work together through a consensus-based approach to address issues of shared interest, including the key components included in the Campus Plan. Over the past two years, AU has worked closely with the Partnership and a wide range of university and community stakeholders to gather input and feedback on the key priorities to be addressed in the 2021 Campus Plan. Informed by that input, the university developed its Preliminary 2021 Campus Plan Framework, which outlined AU’s institutional objectives for the new Campus Plan, including:

  • Strategic and measured enrollment management within the student enrollment cap established in 2011 when adjusted to reflect the revised student count methodology set forth in the city’s updated zoning regulations;
  • A balanced development program of residential, campus life, athletic and academic/administrative uses aimed at strengthening and invigorating a student-centered living and learning campus experience, including enhancing the landscape and open space elements that are distinctive to AU’s urban campus – an accredited and award winning arboretum – and actively advancing the university’s culture of sustainability through industry-leading practices in facility design, construction and operation. In addition to proposing new high quality, leading-edge academic facilities to further the university’s academic and research missions, the Plan will focus on reinvigorating Mary Graydon Center as a campus hub for a myriad of student-focused activities and creating additional opportunities to enhance on-campus student life, as well as repurposing existing and developing new space to accommodate integrated student wellness programs, including those focused on supporting students’ mental health;
  • A focus on providing student housing opportunities that encourage more students to remain on-campus during their time at AU, through renovations to existing housing options as well as proposed new facilities that provide configurations and amenities that meet student preferences. At the same time, the university will implement robust engagement with students that choose to live off-campus to equip them to be responsible members of the community and promote positive relationships between students and their neighbors;
  • Continued commitment to effective Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies that address AU’s broader sustainability objectives by promoting alternative transportation options that reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles and the demand for on-campus parking, along with vigilant enforcement of AU’s existing off-campus parking policies to preserve on-street parking capacity for members of the community.

Update [June 2020]

Since the release of the Preliminary 2021 Campus Plan Framework on March 3, 2020, the university and its neighborhood partners and other interested stakeholders have discussed a wide range of perspectives and potential alternative approaches to the proposals and concepts outlined by AU. On June 1, 2020, the university released the revised Campus Plan Framework, which includes several significant updates and changes that emerged from this productive engagement, including a reduced proposed enrollment cap (which is now lower than the student enrollment cap established in 2011 when adjusted to reflect the revised student count methodology set forth in the updated zoning regulations), modifications to proposed development sites and prioritization of student housing sites, and updates to AU’s commitments with respect to addressing neighborhood quality of life issues. As a result of this dedicated and collaborative effort, the AU Neighborhood Partnership and the university reached consensus on the objectives and commitments outlined in the Campus Plan Framework, which will form the basis of the 2021 Campus Plan that will be released later this year. In its thoughtful and collaborative approach to addressing these key issues, the 2021 Campus Plan will provide a predictable yet flexible approach that embodies the priorities set forth in the strategic plan, allows AU to meet the changing needs and demands of the educational sector of the 21st century, and reinforces the university’s positive role as a leading educational institution in the nation’s capital and an important contributor to enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding campus.