Budget request puts U in line for renovations, new facilities

by Stacy Jo

Preparing for the year 2000, University President Mark Yudof presented the Board of Regents on Thursday with a $193 million preliminary capital budget request, of which the state would fund $132 million and the University would cover $61 million.
More than $800 million is currently devoted to campus design and construction projects in the University’s capital budget. This figure, which includes more than 175 major building projects, might be the highest of all colleges and universities in the nation, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, chief financial officer for the University.
“We have an enormous building program right now,” Yudof told the regents.
In fact, the fund is so large that about $560 million of the funding is for projects that have scarcely begun yet, such as the housing and parking components of the South Mall renovations.
Continuing to ride on the construction wave, officials plan to add a separate $39 million in University funds to the pot to pay for building projects during the next fiscal year.
Nearly two-thirds of the $39 million will go toward renewal and infrastructure of buildings; only 1 percent of next year’s capital budget funding will go toward the construction of new facilities.
The preliminary request presented to the regents on Thursday includes $34 million for the Art Building and $35 million for the second phase of the Molecular and Cellular Biology building. The University’s portion includes a $7.5 million addition to the Law School and $15 million for Nicholson Hall renovations.
The school annually approves a special budget, called the capital budget, to authorize funding for building projects to begin during the following fiscal year.
Every odd-numbered year, University officials prepare this request for the state Legislature. The University agrees to pay one-third of the desired funding, while the state covers the other two-thirds.
Preliminary proposals are approved in June to give legislators a taste of which building projects school officials think are most important. During the summer, legislators tour the campus to examine firsthand the buildings or areas officials have identified as deserving of funding. The Legislature requires final proposals in the fall.
Legislators have long criticized the University for the quality of its buildings, Pfutzenreuter said. This criticism has encouraged the explosion of building construction and renovation on campus, he added.
In 1997, the University scored $200 million of its $249 million capital budget request to be used during 1998. University officials said they are unsure how future funding could compare to that previous legislative success.