A hospital, school and even a hotel are among the future ventures that could be established at the University of Newcastle's Callaghan Campus.
Vice-chancellor Alex Zelinsky flagged the possibilities as part of a discussion about the future of the 150 hectare bushland campus, which, in some respects, has remained unchanged since its creation in the mid-1960s.
The campus's strategic plan has also been thrown into the spotlight with the opening of NewSpace, the soon-to-be-built inner city campus plus the redevelopment of John Hunter Hospital.
Also, with many of the university's original buildings coming to the end of their working life, consideration is being to whether they should be upgraded or replaced.
Professor Zelinsky said the university's tenure at Callaghan was secure, however, the time had come to consider how it could best serve the institution and the city moving forward.
"We have got the Newcastle CBD campus and that's been very successful; it's led to a bit of rejuvenation of the CBD. There's been the suggestion that we should just move Callaghan down there. That's just not going to happen, it's not practical," he said.
"We have got a lot of great assets here that just wouldn't be appropriate to put into the CBD. So the idea is to, what I describe as, turn the campus inside out."
"So you could imagine we could have a private hospital built here, for example. That would allow our nursing and medical students to do training there. You could even imagine having a school on the campus. That would allow our teacher educators to do that. We could build a hotel on the campus. We can invite industry onto the campus to have their offices here."
Macquarie University and Flinders University in South Australia have successfully integrated hospitals into their campuses.
Professor Zelinsky said while there was not an immediate proposal to establish a hospital at Callaghan, the campus would be an ideal location for a multi-purpose medical centre or aged care centre.
He was also keen to see the campus more closely integrated with the surrounding community.
"This idea that the university is something that sits on the side of the city with a ring road or a moat around it is an old idea. We want to make it much more porous, much more integrated," Professor Zelinsky, who has just completed his first year as vice-chancellor, said
"It's a public institution, we want more community events here."
The opportunities for future uses of the campus will, in part, be determined by decisions about whether to renovate or demolish some of the campus's older buildings.
The McMullin Building - one of the oldest buildings at the university - is set to be demolished to make way for a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) facility in coming years.
Another building with a significant question mark over it is the Hunter Building.
The building, which sustained significant damage in the 1989 earthquake, takes up a significant part of the eastern side of the campus.
"It's in the mix what to do with the Hunter Building in the long term - whether we renovate part of it or remove part of it and replace it with new buildings," Professor Zelinsky said.
"That's still a decision to be made but we will be investing in our buildings here. Our maths building has just been refurbished. You can turn old buildings into new; the shell is the same but you redo the bit in the middle."
In addition to the Newcastle campuses, the Central Coast, in particular the establishment of a new campus at Gosford, will be a major focus for the university.
"We have worked hard with the federal and state governments to realise a vision for the Central Coast. Sometimes people say the University of Newcastle but the Act (of Parliament) says we are a university for the Hunter and Central Coast," Professor Zelinsky said.
"There's a real opportunity to make a difference for the Central Coast. Gosford has some really poor outcomes for its youth, only 15 per cent goes on to TAFE or university compared to 30 per cent in the Hunter and 45 per cent in Sydney."
The university will release a draft of its 2025 Strategic Plan for public comment next month. The plan has been the subject of extensive stakeholder consultation.
"It sounds very obvious but sometimes you get into all these other bits and pieces but at the end of the day our core business is going to focus on making the student experience as good as it can be and also, because we are a university of the region and for the region, we have a special relationship with the people of the Hunter and the Central Coast. I want to make that stronger," Professor Zelinsky said