McGirr Speaks From Experience Regarding P3 Financing in Higher Education

With over 29 years of experience overseeing public/private partnerships at the University of Cincinnati, Dale McGirr, senior planner with GBBN Architects, spoke to a room full of constituents at the Academic Impressions Conference recently held in Houston. The two-day event focused on financing in higher education, and was directed towards institutional leaders, including presidents or trustees with facilities, finance, or planning responsibilities.

McGirr was one of two presenters setting the larger context for the use of P3 financing in higher education. The presentation was entitled, "Preparing for Public/Private Partnerships On and Off Campus."

"Overall, it was a great opportunity to speak to our target audience -- representatives from institutions that are updating or developing campus master plans, and considering the use of a private partner to fund facilities," said McGirr. He added, "There were also those in the early stages of establishing a private partnership to fund facilities."

The current trend at most medium and large-sized public institutions is twice as many students live residentially near a campus as live on the campus. Times have changed, and so have the needs and expectations of students preferring to live off, but near campus. "Developing an off-campus housing policy needs to be a top priority," said McGirr. "The quality of student life in that shadow campus district, as well as the quality of community relations in that district, is increasingly becoming strategic priorities for institutional leaders to address."

The conference also included a follow-up, round table discussion with attendees who chose to meet for further discussion of McGirr's presentation. "The verbal comments received were very positive," said McGirr. "Overall, the feedback referred to the presentation providing key insight on the use of the endowment as patient capital for off campus development, as well as providing really good perspective on off campus development factors." McGirr added, "My favorite, however, was the comment that read, 'I want you to talk to my Foundation Board,'. "Obviously we struck a nerve on the importance of P3 financing, and people are seeing its importance and wanting to get more educated on the topic."