Construction, maintenance goals outlined for state legislators

CU leaders gather at Capitol to present plans for top needs

University of Colorado leaders on Tuesday made their case for construction, renovation and maintenance needs across the system during an annual presentation to the state’s Capital Development Committee.

President Bruce Benson, Regent Sue Sharkey and the four campus chancellors each spoke before the committee, which reviews funding requests for capital projects from all state agencies before making prioritized recommendations to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.

Benson noted that the university works to manage its assets carefully, and participates in many public-private partnerships to maximize efficiencies. He stressed, though, that there is no substitute for state funding for capital construction.

He thanked Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for their support of two critical projects: continuation construction costs for the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building in Boulder ($20.2 million) and the Visual and Performing Arts building in Colorado Springs ($9.6 million). Both are included in Hickenlooper’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

Benson also stressed CU’s need for controlled maintenance, some funding for which is included in the governor’s budget recommendation: The Level I priorities are $2.35 million for CU-Boulder (flood mitigation, fire sprinkler upgrades, HVAC renovation) and $216,886 for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus (utility vault improvements).

Should more state funding become available, CU hopes to secure support for CU Denver’s North Classroom Building renovation ($20.6 million; see details below) and controlled maintenance projects at Levels II and III: about $2.7 million at CU-Boulder, $1.4 million at CU Anschutz and $670,342 at UCCS. The latter has no Level I projects on the list, while CU Denver is not eligible for such funding because the university bought the buildings less than 15 years ago.

Chancellors also presented plans for projects not currently included in the governor’s budget:

  • Chancellor Philip DiStefano stressed a high priority for a CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building, new construction at the East Campus that would rely on $28.3 million in state funding and $46.7 million cash. The 138,500-square-foot facility would be supported by public-private partnerships and would boost the university’s critical ties with state and national aerospace science enterprises.
  • Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak outlined two UCCS projects: the $33.8 million South Hall, which would house the College of Education, some College of Letters, Arts and Sciences departments, classrooms, offices and an auditorium; and a phased renovation of the College of Engineering and Applied Science that would upgrade classrooms, offices and a clean room, as well as add research capabilities and improve energy efficiency. The latter project calls for $6.6 million in Fiscal Year 2017 and $21.1 million in FY18.
  • Chancellor Jerry Wartgow gave details on CU Denver’s North Classroom Building renovation, a top-priority project requiring $31.9 million, including $20.6 million in state funding. The latter would address building improvements to the 27-year-old facility, while CU’s cash-funded portion would go toward interior renovations of common areas and educational and support spaces. He also presented priorities for next year: an Engineering and Physical Sciences addition to the North Classroom ($20.7 million from the state) and a Pre-Health Instructional Lab Wing addition to the Auraria Science Building ($9.9 million from the state).
  • Chancellor Don Elliman said the current top priority at CU Anschutz is Interdisciplinary Building 1 and Data Center, a new facility calling for $24.4 million in state funds and the same amount in cash. It would house the Center for Biomedical Informatics, which would expand the work of the university and partner hospitals in personalized medicine; clinical faculty offices and the Office of Information Technology’s data center staff offices.

Members of the six-lawmaker committee expressed appreciation for CU leaders appearing at the presentation. Committee Chair Edward Vigil said he is impressed by the amount of economic development stimulated by CU in campus communities and across the state.

The CDC will hear similar presentations from all state institutions and departments over the next month. Committee members then will recommend priorities to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which eventually must make decisions reflected in the Long Bill (the state budget). That work generally concludes in March.