What Success Looks Like
Coming together to meet needs of campus event planners
Collaborating as One University
By Katy Ricchiuto
June 20, 2011, onCampus
At one of the largest campuses in the United States, one might expect a new Ohio State community member to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of buildings sprawling across the university. But even veteran OSU faculty and staff may have experienced the hurdles of planning a meeting or event in one of the campus’ numerous facilities.
"When you look at OSU as a campus 10 years ago versus today, in the last 10 years we’ve built a lot of incredible facilities alongside the many structures that have been around for a long time," said Xen Riggs, associate vice president of Student Life.
Riggs, along with Stefanie Patsiavos, director of sales at the Blackwell Inn; Jennifer Russell, manager of conference services for the Alumni Association; and Ann Daugherty, director of sales and marketing at the Fawcett Event Center, are part of a consortium dedicated to changing the way event planning happens at Ohio State.
Until very recently, someone planning an event on campus often had to call each individual facility, which could obviously become tedious and time-consuming. "So one of the first things we did as a consortium was to put together a website," said Riggs. That website, planevents.osu.edu, provides a central source of information on the diverse campus meeting centers, from the Fawcett Center, to the Blackwell and Longaberger Alumni House, as well as smaller venues and meeting areas such as RPAC.
"There is a page for each of our spaces to give a snapshot of what we have to offer at each facility," said Patsiavos. The individual pages also offer contact persons, capacities of the facility, amenities, types of events offered and photos. "And then we’ve also added a ‘request for proposal’ for those interested in getting information for their event from anywhere on campus."
Our sole purpose is to communicate, collaborate and help make the meeting experience on campus better across the board.
-Xen Riggs, associate vice president of Student Life
So if you’re planning on having a wedding at OSU, you can simply fill out the request form and any matching venue will respond to your proposal. "It's kind of like a one-stop shopping option," said Riggs.
The website also is useful for coordinating the numerous academic meetings continually taking place around OSU, one of the nation's top public universities and research campuses.
"People at the university, particularly in academics, host a lot of large conferences," said Daugherty. "So it really helps people like that, when they are responsible for a large group, and when their name’s going to be out there. Our job becomes making sure those people all are aware of it, are introduced to it and have an opportunity to use it and see how easily it can work for them."
Planevents.osu.edu will become especially useful to academic event planners as Ohio State transitions to semesters in 2012. With a smaller pool of classrooms to hold meetings in, planners can turn to the consortium and its website to provide available facility information. "The better prepared we can be to fill that void, the better we can serve campus," said Riggs.
The events consortium also is cooperating with diverse offices on campus to improve the campus event planning process. University hospitality district partners, Transportation and Parking Services, Uniprint,
Campus Safety and the Office of Continuing Education are all being included in the consortium’s plans for the events website.
As Daugherty says, it’s a perfect example of Ohio State’s One University concept. "We're collaborating together, keeping business on campus so we can all work with each other and complement what the academic departments are doing to help them in their mission to bring recognition to the university. I think that we can be a partner in that and be an easy way in which they can bring colleagues here."
As far as what the consortium has planned for the future, "That greatly depends on what kind of feedback we get from users, because at the end of the day we’re going to change and make adjustments based on what the customers want," said Riggs. "That’s what we’re here for. Our sole purpose is to communicate, collaborate and help make the meeting experience on campus better across the board."