The University of Alabama, Office for Academic Affairs

Space Occupancy and Allocation Policy

Unit:  Academic Affairs
Contact: Dr. Luoheng Han
Title:  Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
Effective Date: 12/1/2018
Revision Date: 05/17/2021



The University of Alabama’s (the University) physical facilities are a limited resource that must be managed and utilized effectively to promote the highest and best use of University space while still supporting a world class teaching and learning environment. To address changing and unmet space needs, the University must adopt effective methods to analyze and evaluate facility requests, plan for campus space needs, and track, manage, and allocate facility resources. This policy applies to the extended use of interior building space only. Activities or events that require temporary access to University space are governed by the Facility and Grounds Use Policy.



All space shall be assigned in a manner that best advances the following space utilization objectives:

  • Accomplishes and enriches the institution’s mission of teaching, research, and service
  • Implements priorities established by the institution’s leadership as guided by the University’s Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan
  • Achieves operational efficiency
  • Maximizes space use and land use
  • Improves accessibility
  • Produces a safer and healthier environment
  • Improves the appearance of the institution

General Principles

  • All space is to be used for the purpose(s) for which it has been assigned. Space that has been under-utilized for a prolonged period (e.g., over one year) may be considered for re-assignment based on university priorities and needs.
  • Academic space, including classrooms, laboratories, and clinical spaces, should have the highest priority whenever competing purposes occur.
  • Research space should have a higher priority than administrative and service use of space. However, the research space must otherwise align with the utilization objectives above.
  • Space that can be used to directly contribute to the University’s Strategic Plan should have higher priority than one that has no direct relationship to the strategic plan.
  • Long term and interdisciplinary space needs should have a higher priority than short term use needs.
  • The size/square footages for the use of space for office and/or general purpose(s) are based on the University’s design guidelines and standards.
  • Space allocation and utilization should be documented and reviewed annually by academic deans or directors as a component of the unit’s performance review.
  • Space allocation considerations are continually assessed. Therefore, prior justification for space and prior decisions on space are subject to reconsideration and reprioritization.

All physical facilities belong to the University and are assigned by the provost or a vice president to a division, college, academic unit, or department for specific uses. Current users or occupants of the facilities do not own the space, but may have control as delegated by the provost or a vice president. Assignment of space to a particular college, department, school, institute, center or office is subject to change. All vice presidents, deans, directors, and department heads responsible for assigning space shall ensure that all allocated space is being utilized efficiently and in a manner consistent with the intent and/or academic program associated with the original allocation.

Space designated and assigned for office, conference room, laboratory, or classroom purposes shall not be used for storage. Vacant space should not be used for any other purposes (storage, conference room, etc.) without prior approval. Space that is vacated in academic buildings through the relocation of an occupant immediately returns to the provost. For all other buildings, vacated space returns to the appropriate vice president.

Requests for Space

A request for new space and/or modifications to existing space (e.g. change in primary purpose of the space) may be submitted by a dean or associate/assistant vice president or their designee through the Resource Request Form. Each request is reviewed by the provost, vice president, or their designee. Some requests may be forwarded to the Space Advisory Group (defined below) for evaluation and consideration.

Prior to initiating a potential lease agreement for external space, a Resource Request Form should be submitted for review and recommendation. A determination will be made if University-owned space is available to be utilized as opposed to leasing space. Payment for external leased space is the responsibility of the requestor unless previously committed to by the provost or a vice president.

A request to provide space on an extended basis to an external entity or agency must be submitted and approved by the provost or the appropriate vice president prior to recruiting or entering negotiations.

Emeritus faculty status does not guarantee assignment of office and/or lab space. However, if office and/or lab space is available and an individual’s scholarly and/or educational activities best advance the space utilization objectives, requests for space assignment for emeritus faculty may be submitted to the associate provost contingent upon the following criteria:

  • The individual should be actively involved in scholarly and/or educational activities of the University.
  • The size of office space allocated should be proportional to the emeritus faculty member’s scholarly and/or educational activities. Shared offices would be the norm for emeritus faculty members maintaining less than full time involvement and contribution.

The allocation of space to emeritus faculty will be reviewed annually.

Departing faculty (retired or voluntary separation) are generally not provided office and/or lab space. If the dean of the respective faculty member’s college deems it necessary to provide temporary office and/or lab space, a Resource Request Form must be submitted by the dean or the dean’s designee.

The Space Advisory Group reserves the right to change the Space Occupancy and Allocation Policy without prior notice as necessary to address emergent issues.

Defined Roles and Responsibilities Related to Space Management

The Space Advisory Group, the Office of Space Planning and Management (OSPM), and departmental space representatives serve critical roles in tracking, managing, and planning for the utilization of campus space. Each of these roles and responsibilities is defined below.

  • Space Advisory Group: The Space Advisory Group was established to evaluate and recommend space policies, processes, and procedures; initiate or conduct studies to improve space efficiencies and/or use; enact space priorities; disseminate relevant space information to the Dean’s Council; review and recommend action on assignment/reassignment or modification of space usage to the provost or appropriate vice president. The Group meets every quarter or as needed. The Group consists of the following members: associate provost, ex officio dean representative, assistant vice president for Finance and Operations, associate vice president for Research and Economic Development, and associate vice president for Student Life. The senior facility analyst for Academic Affairs and senior associate vice president for Campus Development serve as advisors to the Group.
  • Office of Space Planning and Management (OSPM): The Office of Space Planning and Management is located within the Division of Finance and Operations and exists to track, document, and report on University space and asset data. OSPM includes the Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) Program, and the senior facility analyst for Academic Affairs. OSPM develops policies, procedures, and guidelines applicable to space data management that require the review and approval of the Space Advisory Group.
  • OSPM Senior Facility Analyst for Academic Affairs: The senior facility analyst for Academic Affairs is a team member of OSPM. For new construction that includes classrooms or class labs, the senior facility analyst reviews the new facility space to determine capacity for teaching space. The senior facility analyst records the data and notifies the Office of the University Registrar regarding classrooms and/or classroom labs to be input into the University’s classroom scheduling software. The senior facility analyst also reviews and approves requested changes/additions/deletions to any space housed in the classroom scheduling software. The senior facility analyst works closely with OSPM to perform facility space audits, primarily focusing on the utilization of academic space (classroom, classroom labs, faculty offices, etc.).
  • Space Representatives: The space representative(s) for each department/college serves as a point of contact for OSPM. This person is responsible for verifying and managing the space data for their respective area. OSPM will provide an annual space audit packet for the Space Representative to review and update.
    All space representatives will meet at least twice per year to receive training and discuss issues/challenges regarding the space audit process. These meetings will be scheduled and facilitated by OSPM.

Procedures for Maintenance and Reporting of Space Data

The OSPM maintains the space inventory database for the University. This database includes square footage and space utilization data for each facility and room.

OSPM captures this information by conducting annual space audits of each University facility. The process involves OSPM staff walking through a facility and recording any apparent changes in square footage or room usage.

Once OSPM has completed a space audit for a facility, the information is placed into a space audit packet that is distributed to the appropriate space representative(s). OSPM or the senior facility analyst will contact the space representative(s) to schedule a time to discuss the information included in the packet. Space representative(s) shall verify the following information:

  • Room Use – indicates the primary use of the room. Examples are office, classroom, lab, and closet.
  • Office Occupant Type – identifies the primary occupant type of the office, i.e. faculty, staff, student, administration, or shared office space. (Applicable to office space only.)
  • Office Occupant –identifies the occupant(s) residing in the office. (Applicable to office space only.)
  • Space Assignment – identifies the department organization code for the entity that utilizes the space. This may be a department of a college (e.g., Management, Marketing), an administrative department (e.g., Office of Information Technology, Financial Accounting), or multipurpose space (e.g., Academic Affairs, Finance and Operations).

The space inventory database is a valuable tool for planning and reporting purposes. Conducting annual space audits are critical to ensure OSPM is maintaining accurate floor plans and space utilization data for the University’s facilities. The accuracy of the data is dependent upon OSPM, the senior facility analyst, and the space representatives working closely together to audit and verify campus space.


This policy applies to all employees (both faculty and staff). Activities or events that require temporary access to University facilities and grounds are governed by the Facilities and Grounds Use Policy.


Office of the Provost

Approved by Joel Brouwer, Associate Provost, 05/17/2021