Budget Reductions, Construction Funding Decided by ABOR

Budget Reductions, Construction Funding Decided by ABOR

By University Communications
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Centennial Hall is one of the UA facilities that will receive a makeover thanks to passage of the Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development.
Centennial Hall is one of the UA facilities that will receive a makeover thanks to passage of the Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development.

The Arizona Board of Regents held a special meeting Thursday to decide how to split up a $50 million reduction in state funding for the Arizona university system and to allocate $1 billion for new construction and building renewal projects.

The fiscal year 2009 budget passed by the Arizona Legislature reduced the amount the system receives from the state's general fund by $50 million. Under the regents' plan for distributing the cuts, The University of Arizona will have to trim $19.6 million.

The regents also decided that the UA will receive $170 million of the $1 billion that was approved for construction and building renewal under a separate plan passed by the legislature, the Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development, known as SPEED. The legislation designated $470 million of the total for the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, some of which will support growth of the UA's College of Medicine campus in Phoenix, known officially as the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University.

Northern Arizona University also received $170 million, while Arizona State University received $190 million.

Construction projects that will now proceed at the UA include a new environment and natural resources building and renovations and new construction at Centennial Hall.

The new $90 million, 150,000-gross-square-feet environment and natural resources building will promote interdisciplinary research focusing on earth science and environmental programs.

The facility will house various UA departments and units, including Arid Lands Studies, the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth, atmospheric sciences/Institute for Atmospheric Physics, geography and regional development; and the School of Natural Resources. The building likely will be designed so that it is eligible to earn silver certification or better in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED, system, which sets standards for "green" buildings.

"The new building's impact on the UA environmental scholarship and outreach enterprise can't be overstated," said Jonathan Overpeck, UA professor of geosciences and director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth. "The building will also bring together key environmental units on campus to create the opportunity for unprecenented collaboration and synergy."

Centennial Hall, the largest performing arts venue on campus, will receive a $12 million makeover – including seat replacements, new flooring and sight line and acoustic improvements.

A total of $68 million made available through SPEED will be allocated to critical maintenance and building renewal projects at the UA and will be prioritized among three major categories – fire and life safety improvements, critical mechanical system upgrades and structural safety and waterproofing.

Fire and life safety improvements include fire alarm and sprinkler system upgrades, electrical system upgrades and enhancements to campus elevators. Critical mechanical system upgrades include replacements of mechanical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Structural safety and waterproofing include repairs of structural deficiencies and water damage.

The UA will be responsible for providing 20 percent of the funding for the projects supported by SPEED.

More information about the specific allocations of the budget reductions is forthcoming.

In a recent message to the campus community, UA President Robert N. Shelton said, "Cuts within the colleges and major budget units will be appropriately shared by the deans and vice presidents with all faculty and staff of the college or unit as the cuts become finalized. We will also continue to communicate to the entire campus as more detailed information becomes available. Provost (Meredith) Hay and I will also be conducting a series of town hall meetings on campus in the fall.”

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