Board of Regents Updates Capital Priorities For Next Budget Cycle
Fast-Growing Enrollment Drives Need for Aggressive Building Program
Atlanta — June 8, 2004
Against a backdrop of explosive enrollment growth and projections for hefty future increases in student numbers, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia today approved a revised Major Capital Outlay Priority List totaling $526.7 million.
Six new construction projects costing $162.9 million were added to the end of the existing 16-project list. The new list – revised for the first time since June 2002 – now encompasses 22 projects, reflecting the USG’s major facilities needs. The revised list will serve as the regents’ capital funding request for the 2005 legislative session.
The six new projects added to the list include:
Coastal Georgia Community College – Academic/Technology Building, $18.8 million;
Bainbridge College – Academic Building, $16 million;
Southern Polytechnic State University – Mathematics & Engineering Building, $30 million;
Georgia Perimeter College – Academic Facilities on the Clarkston and Dunwoody campuses, $36 million;
Gwinnett University Center – Academic Building, $24.5 million; and
Valdosta State University – Health Sciences & Business Administration Center, $37,650,000.
The updated capital priority list was finalized today after presidents representing ten University System institutions presented their campuses’ capital priorities for consideration to the Board of Regents. After hearing the presidents outline their institution’s top facility needs, the regents individually evaluated and ranked the ten requests.
The projects were weighed against their adherence to the Board of Regent’s 10 Guiding Principles for Resource Allocation. The principles place a priority on facilities that accommodate existing and future enrollment growth and required academic programs. The highest priority is given to instructional facilities, followed by academic support facilities, student support buildings, then finally administrative and infrastructure needs.
According to USG Vice Chancellor for Facilities Linda Daniels, who managed the capital priority process, the ten projects that were presented were screened from 56 proposals submitted by campus presidents. The requests totaled $297 million in state funds and $36 million in campus funds.
“We have seen enrollment in the University System grow by 42,000 students between fall 2000 and fall 2003,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “In terms of our ability to handle current and projected growth, we are bursting at the seams. We must prepare effectively to meet the burgeoning demand for higher education by our state’s citizens.”
The projects approved today by the Board of Regents replace $86.1 million in projects recommended by the Governor and funded by the legislature in this year’s legislative session to construct the top four major capital projects on the University System’s capital priority list. That funding support positioned the board to revise its list to add needed new projects. The Board of Regents Capital Priority List was not revised in June 2003 because only one major University System project was funded in the 2003 legislative session.
Chancellor Meredith informed the regents that he is currently conducting conversations with the board’s funding partners to convey the urgency surrounding the University System’s remaining facilities needs. The first eight projects on the Board of Regents existing 16-project Major Capital Priority List –adjusted for an anticipated 6 percent construction cost increase – now total $203 million, if appropriated in 2005.
University System officials have analyzed enrollment projections and campus space requirements and concluded that to meet state needs and student demand, the Governor and General Assembly would need to significantly increase the appropriation for new capital construction annually above current levels to meet existing facilities demands.
“When we evaluate our past major capital funding for the System, juxtaposed against the record enrollment increases we are facing year after year, we are going to have to do much more to meet our facilities needs,” stated Meredith. “It is clear we must move toward an annual capital funding appropriation of at least $300 million annually for our major and minor projects if we are going to have the space we need to serve students. This is not a future need we’re talking about. The future is now; the students are on our doorsteps!”
A recent study of the University System’s enrollment trends and facilities needs found that by the year 2020, the System’s student population could grow by an additional 345,000 to 486,000, which would require construction of up to 48-million gross square feet of new space. Sasaki Associates, a planning firm located in Watertown, Ma., that specializes in higher-education campus planning, conducted the study in Fall 2003.
The Board of Regents new Major Capital Priority List will be submitted to the state’s Office of Planning and Budget this September. Gov. Sonny Perdue will utilize the list to develop his budget recommendations for the 2006 fiscal year, which will be considered by the General Assembly when it convenes for the 2005 legislative session.