UCSF Begins Long-Range Planning About its Future Through to 2030

Patricia Yollin on October 14, 2011
UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret addresses the Community Advisory Group

UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret addresses the UCSF Community Advisory Group at its meeting on Sept. 19, 2011.

For most people, the year 2030 is too remote to contemplate. But it is very much on the minds of those involved in shaping the future of UCSF.

The Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for 2015-2030 is now a year in the making.

“We’re about a quarter of the way into the process,” said Lori Yamauchi, assistant vice chancellor for campus planning. “We’ve been mostly in the information-gathering stage. The next phase is developing projections of needs and finding solutions. That’s where the rubber will meet the road.”

A website, which was launched this summer, will keep everyone informed.

“The website is the first step to consolidating information,” said Kevin Beauchamp, UCSF’s director of physical planning. “The LRDP is an opportunity to step back and look at the big picture.”

The current 15-year development plan was initially published in 1996 and approved by the University of California Board of Regents in January 1997. Beauchamp said he hopes its successor will be ready to send to the Regents by 2014.

“Lots of people are working in their own areas of expertise,” he said. “But when you bring them together and see the issues that come forth from people who are living and breathing the effects of growth and the need for types of space -- and trying to brainstorm what the future might hold -- it’s really exciting to be part of it.”

Reaching Out to the Community

Among those living and breathing with UCSF’s expansion over the years are the neighbors. UCSF reached out to members of the community and formed the Community Advisory Group (CAG) in 1992 to keep the lines of communication open about its plans and projects. Members of the CAG bring independent voices and perspectives to UCSF and represent the diversity of San Francisco.

Barbara Bagot-Lopez, director of community relations at UCSF, said the University’s CAG has been kept abreast of the conversations about the University’s long-range plans so far. Starting in early 2012, she said, UCSF will conduct community workshops and meet with neighborhood organizations about the LRDP and will consider neighbors' feedback and concerns in developing the plan.

Members of the UCSF Community Advisory Group

UCSF Community Advisory Group members, from left, Craig Dawson, Corinne Woods and Dennis Antenore listen to UCSF staff talking about the future plans for the University.

"We are continuing our tradition of collaborating with the community as we develop our long-range vision and plans," she said. "While members of the CAG support our overall mission, the CAG is not a group of cheerleaders. They are not shy about offering constructive criticism, and we often seek their advice as challenges arise. It is important they be honest with us and help to keep us on track with neighbors."

Bagot-Lopez said the design for the Third Street facade of the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay – scheduled to open in 2015 – changed dramatically for the better because of community input. When the 1996 development plan was being created, transportation, jobs, housing and economic benefits for the neighborhoods were areas of concern that the University addressed. In addition, she expects environmental sustainability to be a key consideration now.

Thinking Creatively About the Future

So far, more than 100 campus leaders have been working on the plan. The LRDP Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Peter Carroll, MD, MPH, professor and chair of urology, and Kathleen Giacomini, PhD, professor and co-chair of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences, has been meeting since September 2010, as well as subcommittees for instruction planning, research planning and clinical facilities planning. UCSF’s deans will soon offer their input.

“The last LRDP was about expansion, given the landlocked circumstances we were in and the pent-up demand for research space and a new hospital,” Yamauchi said. “That changed the landscape literally in a pretty dramatic way, with Mission Bay. Now we have a fair amount of assets. The question is: How do we make the best use of what we have and do we need more?”

She said the fate of Moffitt Hospital on the Parnassus campus is one key issue because it won’t meet the state’s seismic standards and will have to be fixed or torn down. Another issue is what to do with the remaining land at UCSF Mission Bay.

Kevin Beauchamp, director of Campus Planning

Kevin Beauchamp, director of Campus Planning at UCSF, talks to the Community Advisory Group about the long-range planning process.

“We’ve learned a lot,” Giacomini said. “We’ve received so much information about the complexity of our campuses. Our challenge is to be creative in thinking about the future, but with some budgetary constraints that make one think just a little bit differently without letting it dampen your thinking.”

Giacomini said having themes for each campus is being discussed, and there is much enthusiasm about teaching programs. “I can’t remember focusing that much on instruction before,” she said. “Now, with new ways to teach, people are getting their creative juices flowing.”

Like Yamauchi, Beauchamp and Bagot-Lopez, she is a veteran of past LRDPs. Still, some things have surprised Giacomini.

“I’ve had to think about issues like: What makes a building work? I had never thought about that,” she said. “How many toilets get flushed in a day? How does the sewer system work? You have to upgrade your buildings like your home.”

Beauchamp said there has been tremendous engagement from committee and subcommittee members, which has produced a wide range of questions: Do we want to rethink how we occupy some of our buildings? What are our space needs? How do we want to grow? What’s the alignment between research and clinical activities? Should Mount Zion continue to be even more of an outpatient hub? What are new ways to think about site planning? How can technology be used to connect people on different campuses? What about solar access?

He said some people are thinking big, while others are much more sober in their assessment of the future, and yet others have achieved a pragmatic middle ground.

“We need a flexible plan because we can’t foresee the future,” Beauchamp said. “Who knows what the next amazing area of science will be? We don’t want to get caught flatfooted. Planning is never a linear process. We have a schedule and a road map, but there are lots of twists and turns this will take along the way.”

He said his own disposition is naturally aligned with thinking about multi-year, long-range things.

“But this is the kind of process that can be incredibly frustrating for people who are action-oriented,” Beauchamp said. “It requires a lot of patience and open-mindedness.”

Photos by Cindy Chew