Stanford Faculty Housing Case Study

Becky Quarles worked with Product Rehab to conduct a major study of housing needs and preferences of Stanford’s faculty and made specific recommendations about the types of housing, including the location and community amenities, that Stanford should build. Some of the recommended housing has now been built. 

 

The Situation

Stanford University is located in Stanford, California, within a short distance near Palo Alto. The surrounding area represents one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. This presents a very big challenge to Stanford, as they try to recruit the top academic talent in the nation. Many faculty, members, particularly assistant professors and professors with a specialty in the humanities simply cannot afford to live in the area. Thus, Stanford has long provided subsidized housing for faculty. This study was undertaken as part of Stanford’s 30-year plan in order to plan the housing that would be needed over that period. Most of Stanford’s existing housing had been built on campus, but it was clear that there was limited space on campus for more development and that faculty needs and preferences might be changing.

 

The Process

The study began with a detailed assessment of Stanford’s existing housing stock, including type of housing, pricing, and turnover, and the housing stock available in the immediate area. Then, we carried out depth interviews with high-level university administration to capture their information needs and vision for the future. The next step involved focus groups with faculty members. All of this preliminary information was used to design a survey that spoke to the needs and preferences of the Stanford faculty.

 

Results

As part of the survey, we conducted a segmentation of the faculty based on needs and preferences. The segmentation analysis revealed several highly-differentiated segments. Based on this analysis, we recommended that Stanford build several different types of developments and, several different types of housing in different locations. One of these developments, which followed the recommended specifications and design, has now been built in downtown Palo Alto near the campus. 

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