Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is now the time for big new projects?

In spite of the budgetary crisis at the U, the administration plans to move forward with a major new investment in biomedical buildings. The Daily notes that the project will "cost the University $109 million from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2019" and that "$40 million would be for startup costs, $18 million for facility operations and overhead and another $51 million would be spent on programs and faculty...Over a five-year period, 40 new faculty principal investigators would be hired to work in the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the Cancer/Cardiovascular facility, according to the plan. In addition, 40 existing faculty members would be relocated to the new buildings." "Even with the $31 million in grants the University is expected to receive, it will need to find funding for about $78 million."

Our CFO: “That’s a daunting number, particularly in this fiscal environment,” Pfutzenreuter said, adding that it’s best viewed in incremental chunks, as that’s how it is addressed in the annual budgeting process."

Daunting for sure. Perhaps now is not the time to be embarking on a major new building project that will add to recurring costs with 40 new faculty lines? It is distressing that at the same time that the administration is imposing painful cuts on academic units that will result in layoffs and cutbacks in instruction, raising tuition, sticking staff with 3 days of furlough, and asking faculty to take a pay cut (after two years of a pay freeze), that the administration is still planning to go forward with this big ticket project.

Fortunately, at least one regent has doubts about whether the U can afford this project now: "Regent Steven Hunter expressed concern about finding the money for the new facilities. 'I don’t think state funds are going to be there in the foreseeable future,' he said, adding, 'I want to move forward, but I hope we have further discussion about how we’re going to fund this.'

"If approved by the regents, the proposed 280,000 square-foot building would begin construction in fall 2010."


No comments:

Post a Comment