University launches five-year capital planning blueprint
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 08:09
The university has begun drafting a five-year blueprint for capital expenditures on maintenance and construction across Tufts’ campuses that will lay out the priorities for each school and program, including plans for a new science building on the Medford/Somerville campus.
The long-term plan for committing funds is a move away from the university’s historically more reactionary approach to capital planning, Vice President of Operations Dick Reynolds said.
“We used to ask [the schools] every year, ‘What do you need for capital?’
But then what would happen is that instead of it being put together as a university-wide plan, it ended up just with the squeaky wheel getting the grease,” he said.
The blueprint will act as an approximate agenda for capital spending across the university based on the priorities of University President Anthony Monaco and the leadership of each school.
“We’re saying, let’s take a look at what are the priorities over the next five years. We can have a pretty good idea of what cash is going to be available over the next five years for expenditure in capital items, so now we’ve got to get into setting priorities and having the uses equal the sources, at least from a planning standpoint,” Reynolds said.
The new capital projects will draw from money already on the books, including the proceeds of a $250 million so-called “Century Bond” the university sold in March to 24 different buyers to help fund deferred maintenance projects.
The plan will be proposed this year to the Board of Trustees for approval, according to an Aug. 30 memo from Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell to university faculty and staff.
Before then, Reynolds said, the university will gather input from across the different schools to determine how to allocate the money.
“We’re asking each of the schools and each of the major departments, like [University Information Technology] or Dining Services what are their needs over the next five years,” he said.
Campbell wrote in her memo that a new science building on the Medford/Somerville campus will be one of the priorities listed in the plan.
“While this project was previously put on hold due to the constraints of the financial markets, the space needs for academic and scientific research remain paramount,” she wrote.
Reynolds said the project is a priority for Monaco, and therefore will likely remain a fixture in the plan for spending over the next five years.
“We’re pretty sure that the science building is going to make the cut,” he said. “It’s a major theme for President Monaco, and Barnum is in awful shape.”
The plan is a flexible one, subject to the changing needs of each school and limited resources, he added.
“We already know that there are more things that people want to do than there is cash available,” Reynolds said. “We’re now going back and just started meeting one on one with each of the schools, with the deans and their executive associate deans, and really having just a hard talk about
priorities because we’re not going to be able to do everything.”
The plan will take into account which campuses and schools have been allocated funds for capital projects in recent memory.
“We’re going to be looking at where [we have] been spending money over the last several years,” Reynolds said. “At some point there will be some projects that will get taken off the list that I’m sure people will be unhappy about.”
Other projects, such as the last stages of the ongoing overhaul of the Hill’s athletic facilities, will be taken off the list of expenditures and will rely on donations for completion.
“That’ll have to wait for someone writing some big checks,” Reynolds said.