Cornell University maximizes the strategic value of its housing assets

Project Highlights

  • Cornell University aims to ensure that all students who wish to reside on-campus have the ability to do so.
  • Unifying the selection processes for housing options, ranging from a faculty-driven house system to resident-driven Program House and Co-op options, ensures consistency in messaging and the opportunity to guide students through a single process flow to the housing option best suited to support their success.
  • Survey data allows Cornell to re-align its room selection process for upperclass students to be competitive with an exceptionally tight housing market that drives students to sign leases a year in advance.
  • Reviewing business practices and data gaps identifies opportunities to return occupancy to pre-COVID levels and improves reporting solutions to support decision-making.

Cornell University

Management Advisory Services

Cornell University, a private, Ivy League university and the federal land-grant institution of New York State, serves over 15,000 undergraduate and over 10,000 graduate and professional students from its main campus in Ithaca, New York. In recent years, the residential system has seen extraordinary growth with the addition of 2,000 new beds and a focusing of efforts on the residential experience of undergraduate students through the implementation of a 2-year live-on requirement. These changes occurred in the challenging context of COVID, resulting in lower than desired occupancy from upperclass students.

Cornell engaged B&D to identify opportunities to align processes and decision-making strategies with the new residential reality to ensure capture of the upperclass market. B&D’s Management Advisory Services team provided a detailed operations and management assessment including a review of assignment processes, data management and occupancy modeling, marketing, and systems, tools, processes, and procedures, in particular, the use of available technology. Upon receipt of these recommendations, Cornell engaged B&D to ensure the successful implementation of these recommendations.

B&D recommended several strategies focused on identifying and promoting the value proposition for living on-campus, adjusting space usage to better align with the student development continuum and class-year based demand, and managing data effectively to ensure the ability to confidently make data-driven decisions. The project team provided a roadmap for implementing these strategies, taking into account dependencies and scheduling constraints, which is already being successfully implemented with positive results.

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