IU falling short of funds to properly maintain buildings

June 13, 2010

Indiana University officials say the university is falling about $17 million short of what it needs to spend to maintain its buildings and facilities each year.

Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities Tom Morrison told university trustees last week that the funding gap is forcing IU to pay for emergencies such as leaking roofs and that repairs are more extensive and costly because maintenance has been delayed.

"When a building becomes so outdated or in need of repair, it needs to be completely gutted," Morrison said. "I liken it to your own home. If you replace your roof before it leaks, you don't ruin your dining room."

Historically, IU and the state have split the cost of repair and renovation for academic buildings. But the state's percentage has averaged 36 percent of projected need and the IU percentage has dropped to 29 percent in the last four years.

Morrison said the situation is being compounded by aging buildings and the need to repair or renovate high technology and infrastructure more frequently than traditional structures.

"Laboratory renovations used to be necessary every 25 to 30 years," Morrison said. "Now it's five and seven years."

He also noted that the university's regional campuses will be due for major repairs at the same time. All were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he said.

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Neil Theobald said auxiliary sites such as the IU Auditorium and the Indiana Memorial Union in Bloomington also aren't being properly funded for repair and renovation.

Trustee Tom Reilly noted that Yale University faced a similar problem and had to install portable toilets outside a residence hall. The Ivy League school launched a $1 billion fundraising drive to modernize its aging campus.

Purdue University and Ivy Tech have both included a repair and renovation fee in their tuition fees.

Theobald said IU needs to have a consistent approach. IU's residence halls regularly budget for repair and renovation, he said.

"That needs to be the practice across all these units," Theobald said.


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