Margrave Strategies' anchor scan update shared at University Senate meeting

During the coming weeks and months, university leadership will use the data and research findings collected by Margrave to develop a comprehensive strategy that will guide future growth and cement the university’s role as an anchor institution for decades to come.

By Ray Feldmann on April 4, 2017

In a little more than four months, nearly 3,000 new freshmen will arrive on campus for the start of the fall semester. The vast majority of them will live on campus, in university housing, for at least their first year or two.

But for juniors, seniors, transfers and graduate students, the on-campus housing picture is not so rosy. There simply is not enough university housing to accommodate students in those categories.

The forecast for student housing is just one of the pieces of data recently shared with university leaders by Margrave Strategies, the firm led by former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman that is partnering with Towson University to develop a comprehensive strategy focused on strengthening the connectivity between communities, core institutions and emerging businesses.

“They will help us advance some of the connectivity that we have with Towson as a whole,” TU President Kim Schatzel told a University Senate meeting on Monday afternoon.

Schatzel focused on findings from Margrave’s anchor scan research that the firm gathered over the past several months:

  • Towson University has a lower percentage of millennial employees compared to other Towson area employers. However, the percentage of millennial full-time hires in the last year has grown.
  • Employees who live closer to campus tend to be younger than their counterparts. Approximately 13 percent of all TU employees live in Towson, and 49 percent live in Baltimore County.
  • Many of the needs of Towson University’s Incubator align with efforts of place-based economic development including: creation of new facilities, connections to student and faculty research, and co-leveraging services provided by the university or other stakeholders.
  • The vast majority of juniors, seniors, transfers and graduate students live off campus. Apartment-style living on campus is in high demand. The majority of off-campus students live in apartment complexes, but some still share single-family homes.
  • The most desired amenities and retail opportunities identified by students and others surveyed include higher-quality restaurants, performance spaces and an independent coffee shop.

“There is a strong demand for student housing on campus,” Schatzel said Monday. “We currently have a 2,000–2,500 bed shortage that we need to address.”

The need for student housing aligns with the TIGER Way presidential priority, which offers a strategy for providing more support for all students, especially our transfer and graduate students, as they launch into their studies at TU.

“As we look toward the future,” Schatzel added, “we might be considering a coffee shop, a satellite of our campus bookstore and gallery space to showcase our faculty’s creative work.”

Schatzel pointed University Senate attendees to a “microsite” on the university’s website where Margrave’s data and research findings are now housed.

Launched by Ulman in January 2015, Margrave Strategies provides a comprehensive array of economic development, planning and visioning services to institutions, businesses and other groups throughout the state and mid-Atlantic region. In Maryland, the firm is perhaps most well known for its work as a strategist for economic development and growth at the University of Maryland College Park.

Margrave is working closely with U3 Advisors, Philadelphia-based firm that provides real estate and economic development solutions to universities, medical centers, foundations and non-profits that are anchor institutions in the communities they serve.

Announced last September on the steps of the Old Baltimore County Courthouse building alongside County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Margrave’s project with Towson is focused on four primary goals:

  • Strengthen the university’s connectivity between communities, core institutions and emerging businesses;
  • Support the implementation of the president’s priorities, including BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore and TIGER Way: Transfer, International, Graduate student Enrollment Resources.
  • Leverage the existing understanding of philanthropic and business communities in the Greater Baltimore region in order to enhance partnerships for TU;
  • Manage future institutional demand, and make better use of campus “edges” to create more vibrant, walkable spaces that better connect the university with the Greater Towson community.

During the coming weeks and months, university leadership—led by Schatzel—will use the data and research findings collected by Margrave to develop a comprehensive strategy that will guide future growth and cement the university’s role as an anchor institution for decades to come.

“I will talk more specifics in 10 days,” Schatzel said Monday.

The president is scheduled to deliver her annual Spring Address to campus on April 13.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University.