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UM System prioritizes projects for 2015 funding, discusses 2014 restrictions

Friday, July 19, 2013 | 12:31 p.m. CDT; updated 5:44 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 20, 2013

COLUMBIA — Lafferre Hall once again tops the list of MU's renovation priorities. 

The UM System Board of Curators on Friday requested funding for three major MU renovations in its 2015 state appropriations request.

MU's primary request is $55.9 million to renovate Lafferre Hall, an item that has been on its agenda since at least fiscal year 2012. MU's other requests, which have also appeared in previous fiscal years, break down as follows: 

  • $31.4 million for a new School of Music facility
  • $47.5 million to renovate Arvarh E. Strickland Hall 
  • $82.8 million in critical facility needs such as updates to classrooms and laboratories

The system request includes $653.7 million for capital improvements and $494.5 million for system-wide operations.

During the curators' meeting, Tom Richards, interim vice president for finance and UM System treasurer, presented an update on what he and others called the fiscal year 2014 "spending restrictions." MU is subject to a $7 million across-the-board freeze on core spending. Gov. Jay Nixon also withheld $1 million for the large animal veterinary program and $9.7 million for a School of Medicine expansion.

Richards said UM System schools are already feeling the effects of the restrictions. Fiscal year 2014 began on July 1, limiting the amount of money the system could count on from the state. 

If the Missouri General Assembly chooses not to override Nixon's veto of House Bill 253 in a special veto session in September, the UM System will receive the $26.4 million Nixon is withholding. In the case of an override, Richards said it is unlikely the system will receive the funding.

UM System schools are forming contingency plans. Richards said the restrictions do not affect any of the system's $12.4 million in performance funding, which UM System President Tim Wolfe wants to go toward each campus' strategic plan.

Richards said the restrictions will be difficult for all schools.

"Contingency planning efforts will require continued difficult decisions by each campus as each cut in state appropriations must be offset by some combination of increased revenue or reduced cost," Richards said.

Although contingency planning is in early stages at each campus, Wolfe said the restrictions forced the School of Medicine to scrap plans to increase its enrollment by eight students this fall. He said the school will wait until the next academic year to increase enrollment.

Wolfe asked the curators to speak with their legislators and urge them not to override the veto.

"Our focus is going to be primarily on the House, not the Senate because of the way the Senate vote took place," Wolfe told the curators in a teleconference. "We have got in our sights those individuals that we could either flip or make sure that their vote that they had previously pans out."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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Comments

Ellis Smith July 19, 2013 | 3:07 p.m.

@ Claire Boston and the Missourian:

The situation concerning Lafferre Hall is puzzling. This item has, as the present article states, been on the books for quite some time, but there have been articles in this newspaper suggesting that some work is or has been in progress.

Perhaps someone from the Missourian could clarify this?

Based on recent new construction at another UM System campus it appears one could build an entirely new facility for the cost shown for renovation of the present one; however, doing that could create problems:

1-What then would be done with the present structure, other than demolition?

2-If the new facility weren't built in the space occupied by the present one, where on the campus COULD it be built?

There might be aesthetic considerations, something the other campus mentioned doesn't worry much about. :)

(Report Comment)
Brendan Gibbons July 19, 2013 | 5:29 p.m.

Hi Ellis,

I'm not the reporter on this story, but I'm working on another article right now that will hopefully clarify some of the issues you brought up. I obtained a copy of the university's facility needs index, which assigns each building a score based on total cost of repairs / cost of completely replacing the building from the ground up. The list includes a score for each academic and research building. My article will put this index in the appropriate context, explaining how the university decides what to renovate and when.

The article should run in about two weeks. It may not answer all your questions about Lafferre, but it should provide some valuable context.

Feel free to contact me at news@ColumbiaMissourian.com if you want to discuss more.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 19, 2013 | 10:08 p.m.

@ Brendan Gibbons:

Thank you. I have run across references to "scores" elsewhere, but don't recall seeing a definition. Seems to me an article concerning such matters is overdue.

May we assume "scoring" is a uniform system, applying to all four campuses? Do projects having the most "worthy" scores usually get first chronological consideration on a System-wide basis, only within individual campuses, or both?

I am more interested in guidance on those matters than Lafferre Hall, which is important but isn't located on our campus.

One observation: While pleasing external architecture is to be desired, IT'S WHAT DOES OR DOESN'T HAPPEN INSIDE THE BUILDINGS THAT MATTERS.

(Report Comment)
Claire Boston July 19, 2013 | 10:26 p.m.

Hi Ellis,

I'm the reporter on this story. Let me try to explain the Lafferre Hall situation from what I've gathered.

In 2009 a $21.9 million addition opened. This was supposed to be phase one of a multi-phase project to renovate and reconstruct the entire building. As far as I know, a second phase never came to fruition — that's what's been requested for so many years.

UM System finance committee members talk a little bit about their plans for future renovations on pages 7 and 8 of their appropriations request (bit.ly/18tHtD6). Their plans are vague, but it doesn't look like they would consider knocking down the building and starting fresh. The 2014 plan suggested adding 36,000 square feet to the building and renovating another 200,000.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 20, 2013 | 8:13 a.m.

@ Claire Boston:

Thanks. Things now make more sense. My understanding (from the media and more so from faculty) is that the original facility was allowed to seriously deteriorate.

A project at another campus more than doubled capacity of an academic hall and laboratories, by expanding horizontally and at the same time vertically! Horizontal space is at a premium.

PS: If a football stadium expansion or a new basketball palace were well behind originally expected completion, do we believe that would receive serious notice in the media?. It's a rhetorical question. :)

(Report Comment)

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