Board of Regents Makes Final Decision Regarding Southern Polytechnic Life University Property
Atlanta — April 28, 2004
Ann Watson - Southern Polytechnic
University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith today advised the Board of Regents, upon recommendation of staff, that a request from Southern Polytechnic State University to enter into a lease agreement with the SPSU Foundation to purchase Life University property would not be moved forward for further board consideration at this time.
Both Chancellor Meredith and SPSU President Lisa Rossbacher expressed disappointment at the “loss of the opportunity” to address the needs and future expansion of SPSU. However, both also acknowledged concerns about assuming a lease commitment in light of the current economic climate facing the state, the University System of Georgia and all USG institutions.
To enable the acquisition to take place, the Board of Regents was required to approve a lease agreement with the Southern Polytechnic State University Foundation, Inc. for the assumption of Life University’s existing debt service. In addition, a lease-back arrangement with Life University for approximately 60 percent of the Life campus facilities would contribute to the annual debt payment. These two leases would have provided the revenue to cover the annual debt payment.
Two informational sessions related to the proposed acquisition were held with the Board of Regents over the past several months. At the April Board of Regents meeting, the Facilities and Real Estate Committee tabled action on the proposal to secure additional information regarding the proposed acquisition. After all submitted information regarding the acquisition had been fully evaluated, Board of Regents’ staff recommended yesterday to Chancellor Meredith that the lease commitment not be assumed at this time.
“While there was considerable financial support for the project,” stated Linda M. Daniels, vice chancellor for facilities, “the Board of Regents was not assured of the long-term fiscal soundness of the project.”
Members of the Board of Regents’ Real Estate and Facilities Committee supported the staff position to decline action on the acquisition, and chose not to call a Special Meeting this week for further discussion of the project - an option that was made available to them.
“We would be remiss if we did not thank the members of the Southern Polytechnic State University Foundation and acknowledge their extraordinary efforts to find ways to meet the future needs of the university,” Chancellor Meredith stated. “We encourage them in their future endeavors as they continue their good work on behalf of the university.”
According to SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher, Southern Polytechnic received tremendous support for pursuing the property acquisition, including substantial financial commitments as part of an alternative funding program to supplement funds from the SPSU Foundation.
“We are particularly appreciative of the commitment and leadership of the Southern Polytechnic State University Foundation, Inc.,” Rossbacher stated. “We are gratified by the broad support of SPSU from the community, including the City of Marietta, Cobb County, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and the Marietta Kiwanis. We also have received tremendous support and assistance from our faculty, staff and students over the past months as we have worked on this proposal. We know that these valued friends of the University will continue to help us maintain the energetic momentum of growth and progress we are experiencing for our institution.”
Dr. Rossbacher also acknowledged with appreciation the efforts of the Board of Regents and its System Office staff in studying all of the aspects of the proposed acquisition.
Looking to the future, Dr. Rossbacher says that SPSU will continue to emphasize addressing the need for new academic facilities on campus to provide for instructional facilities appropriate for the University’s high-tech programs. Further, she adds, “Dr. Guy Riekeman, president of Life University, and I are committed to working together as good neighbors and partners, to contribute to education and workforce development in this region.”