The mission of Project Oasis is to create and support co-curricular study spaces for UIC students. These informal learning environments are strategically located to complement classrooms and other formally structured learning environments.
Initially, these spaces were targeted for leftover, marginal, and peripheral spaces in east campus classroom buildings. Some spaces were already used for vending, study carrels, or benches but were cold and uninviting; others were just extra floor area, either part of or adjacent to circulation space. They were all in buildings with centrally administered classrooms, and thus served no single academic department or college. Thus, there was no particular unit that took an interest in fixing up existing areas or creating new ones. Early Oasis projects were funded in a variety of ways: personal contributions from concerned faculty and administrators and pooled funds from a variety of academic units were supplemented by relatively small contributions from the Office of the Provost. On the strength of improvements realized through those early projects, later Oases have succeeded in securing funds from larger donations by alumni, and the Provost continues to contribute as well.
Project Oasis is a wonderful gift to the UIC students made possible mostly through alumni donations. These are either small amounts given in support of the overall effort or larger amounts that enable a particular project to be realized. Small donations are used to help with non-construction costs. Large donations are sought based on the plans for a specific new Oasis, and are then applied directly to the construction costs (either with a match from the Provost or on their own) of the space they are given for. These donations are solicited in a cooperative effort between the Office of Campus Learning Environments and the UIC Development Office for spaces serving the broadest UIC populations.
Project Oasis does not have any funds available to support planning and construction of Oases that are developed within individual academic departments. However, the Office of Campus Learning Environments is available for consultations on such projects and will help with design, funding opportunities, and construction management as needed.
If there is a space that I think would make a good Oasis for
UIC students, who should I talk to about it?
That depends on where the space is located. If the space is in a building associated with a particular college, talk to the dean or someone else in the dean’s office first. If the space is located in an area without particular affiliation to an academic unit, contact the Office of Campus Learning Environments. OCLE can help with determining the suitability, and work with you to develop possible funding scenarios.
If I am ready to work on getting an Oasis constructed, how can I
get the money to do it?
There are a variety of ways to collect the funds needed for Oasis construction. If a number of different user-groups will benefit from the Oasis, petition the administrators of those campus units for contributions to the construction. If there is a single academic unit that benefits, the development office of the college should be approached for assistance in raising money for the project. If the project will serve a broad student need with no particular collegiate connection, the Office of Campus Learning Environments can work with the UIC Development Office to solicit an alumni donation for the project. Projects that succeed in capturing the interest of a donor may also be eligible for matching funds from the provost ’s office.
If I have an Oasis project in mind, is there Project Oasis money
available to help me?
No pre-existing Oasis fund exists that can be applied to for financial support in the realization of an Oasis project. If the project you have in mind is one that will serve a broad student need with no particular collegiate connection, the staff will work with you to develop a concept for the Oasis that can attract donor interest. The UIC Development Office will then look for opportunities to match a donor’s interest with the idea. If your idea is targeted to a narrow group of users, the staff will help in the generation of a design concept to make a case that will enable you to seek funding for construction.
Why are some Oases funded by Project Oasis, but others are not?
Lots of people all over campus are interested in improving the conditions in areas used by our students. Many have seen some of the completed Oases and wish to do something similar. If they have the resources and means, they undertake the project on their own without the involvement of the Office of Campus Learning Environments. Our office aims at providing relief in those areas where no other campus unit is likely to. But in reality, no Oases are funded by Project Oasis. They are funded by concerned faculty and administrators, by academic units (either solo or working in partnerships), or by alumni donations.
What are the qualities that make a good Oasis for UIC students?
The best Oasis spaces have a number of things in common. Most are located near classrooms, providing a natural waiting area for students before and after attending class. They offer a stopping place adjacent to primary circulation paths. Since these spaces serve students, the display of UIC student artwork has been established as en essential element. The Office of Campus Learning Environments is available to help with the process of identifying and purchasing appropriate pieces for any Oasis space. Students study in Oasis spaces, so it is also essential that they provide good lighting and comfortable seating. Depending on the amount of space and its location, some have tables or other work surfaces and proximity to vending or other refreshments. They are intended to be lively and colorful zones with plants and artwork.