Location: Tempe, AZ
University: University of Advancing Technology
Founder’s Hall is a 260-bed student housing property situated right on the University of Advancing Technology campus in Tempe, Arizona. Campus Advantage was engaged in the fall of 2016 to implement its signature Students First® experience – a program designed to ensure that residents who choose to live at Campus Advantage communities have more opportunities to achieve success both now and in the future. Founder’s Hall lacked a robust calendar of resident events and overall community feel, and Campus Advantage was hired for their award-winning ResidentAssistant.com student resources and residence life experience to improve resident relations by committing to a higher level of resident satisfaction and success. Upon taking over the management of Founder’s Hall, Campus Advantage implemented new and innovative residence life programming, prompting a substantial increase in renewals among current residents. This also led to higher year-over-year annual occupancy trends at the property, a previous challenge due to the semester lease terms.
Throughout the transition, Campus Advantage also developed a strong working relationship with the University of Advancing Technology’s executive leadership team, enrollment services department, and financial aid department. The evolving relationships allowed all parties to collaborate on aggressive marketing and leasing campaigns, leading to increased capture ratios and more newly enrolled UAT students choosing Founder’s Hall as their housing option. These results were achieved through clear communication amongst all parties, daily meetings with UAT leadership, and a common goal to serve the residents at Founder’s Hall with the best hospitality and living experience.
Through these initiatives, Campus Advantage was able to achieve 100% occupancy at Founder’s Hall for fall 2019.
Opening a New Campus in the Russian Far East
Campus Advantage provided four years of consulting services for a new university campus in the Russian Far East. The project was a high-profile initiative of the Ministry of Education to create a world-class institution based on western design and operating standards. Several of Campus Advantage’s team members spent six months living and working at the campus in 2014.
The campus is located on Russian Island near the port city of Vladivostok, next to the border of China on the Sea of Japan. Fall classes commenced in September 2013 with approximately 25,000 students. CA’s work focused on four main areas: residence life programming, on-campus housing management, international marketing, and summer camps and conferences.
Campus Advantage was first invited to assist with the project in 2010 by the builder of the $7 billion project, who was based in Moscow. During visits to Moscow, CA had the opportunity to meet with several high-ranking leaders in the Russian federal government who were educated in the United States and Western Europe. These individuals were very interested in replicating the feel and atmosphere of western campuses at the new university in Vladivostok with the goal of attracting international students and faculty.
The campus includes over 12,000 beds of new housing. A team of architects from Moscow and the United States worked together with CA’s consulting group to design and plan the unit mix, common areas, and amenity spaces throughout the residence halls. This was the first new university built in Russia in many years, and the goal was to incorporate a true residential experience based on western traditional campuses.
Campus Advantage’s time in Russia was carefully designed to provide the university with tools that would assist their goals of raising their QS World University Ranking and becoming a world-class institution. The consulting team worked closely with university staff to provide training, policies, and procedures. One of the most exciting tasks accomplished was the development and implementation of the first Resident Assistant program in the country. With help from higher education marketing agency Catalyst, Campus Advantage developed recruiting concepts and materials that led to hundreds of students applying and interviewing to be chosen for the program.
Campus Advantage shared policies and procedures to help the campus create a roommate-matching program and customer-service-based management practices. CA also recommended special programs to assist international students and further advised on methods to increase access for students with disabilities. By putting a summer-turn plan in place, CA provided the university with the necessary tools to handle students moving in and out over a short period of time.
Working closely with Catalyst, CA was able to present the concept of a campus mascot and a university merchandise program. A faculty committee and student organization reviewed several mascot concepts and designs, along with a business plan for launching university spirit-wear and other branded products.
The work Campus Advantage conducted at Far Eastern Federal University provided them with the tools necessary to increase their QS World University Ranking — as well as ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings — and was very well received by both the Russian federal government and the university. CA worked with Erik Holm-Olsen at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, who stated, “Campus Advantage, from everything I have seen, has been an excellent representative of the American private sector in Vladivostok.”
A sampling of accomplishments:
- Introduced residence life programming to the FEFU campus
- Created a mascot and a university merchandise program
- Implemented world-class standards for residence hall management
- Provided multiple opportunities to expand conference business at FEFU
- Hosted several events on campus for students, allowing the FEFU staff and students to interact socially
- Designed furniture and décor for leisure areas in the building
Campus Advantage was contacted in late July 2011 by an interested investor of a multifamily product to provide their expertise on converting a conventional apartment complex in Malibu, CA to student housing. Campus Advantage visited the property, as well as the market, to make observations on whether the project could operate as a student housing community during the academic year. A budget analysis of the existing project was also completed by evaluating current financials to provide projected financials for a student operation.
After careful analysis of the market and review of the financials, Campus Advantage determined that the property had excellent potential to convert to a pure student housing community due to limited supply of rental choices and limited on-campus housing. Campus Advantage also provided recommendations for the conversion to student housing that included implementation of a residence life program, furnishing units with bedroom and living room furniture, and modifications to lease terms and rental rate structures.
New Development Design Consulting
Campus Advantage was approached in September 2010 to complete an operational budget analysis for the first on-campus housing at Alexandria Technical and Community College in Alexandria, Minnesota. Campus Advantage reviewed the unit mix, building type, and other related items provided by the client to provide an operating budget to maximize NOI.
In the following months after completion of the operational budget analysis, Campus Advantage was then again approached by the developer in early summer 2011 to lend its expertise in development and design of the project. Campus Advantage worked closely with the client to review and optimize unit layouts and building plans as well as make recommendations on vendor selection, information technology issues, FF&E specifications, and also operational topics such as lease terms, utility structure, and administrative office setup.
Due to its involvement with the project, Campus Advantage developed a relationship with the college’s foundation and continues its ongoing consulting during the project’s initial operations phase offering the following services, but not limited to marketing materials and website production oversight, marketing plan development, policies and procedures consultation, and general operating guidance for a new student housing community.
Foundation Hall opened in fall 2012. It pre-leased to over 96% and was received with great popularity amongst students who were previously underserved in their housing needs.