Campus Construction Relatively Unaffected by Economic Concerns

Photo: The scheduled demolition of Campbell Hall was postponed and is an example of one of the few building projects affected by the campus's budget cuts.
Chris Chung/File
The scheduled demolition of Campbell Hall was postponed and is an example of one of the few building projects affected by the campus's budget cuts.

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Despite recent budget cuts, UC Berkeley is going ahead with several development projects on campus.

At a time when universities around the nation are scaling down construction projects due to the economy and the University of California is facing severe budget cuts, most ongoing construction on campus has not been impeded by funding cuts and officials expect that funds will emerge for most future construction projects.

Funding for development projects is secured prior to being green-lighted, and it relies on a variety of funding in addition to state funds, according to Christine Shaff, communications manager for UC Berkeley Facility Services.

Main sources of funding for large projects include state funding toward capital improvements, loans and donations, including more than $108 million for the new Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, which is currently being built in place of Warren Hall.

"As long as we have the sources to pay off the loans, there's no impact at all, and normally those things are built into budgets," said Ed Denton, vice chancellor of facilities services. "It's actually a very common activity for any university to fund capital projects this way."

Last month, the University of California's budget was cut by $33 million after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state agencies to increase state savings. UC Berkeley took a $5 million cut as a result.

An estimated $84.2 million in loans is going toward a new building in the process of being added to the Boalt Hall School of Law. The building will have two stories underground that will house the school's library as well as an above-ground story that contains classrooms and student meeting spaces.

The only major campus project that has been halted by the budget cuts is the planned demolishment of Campbell Hall, which was declared seismically unsafe. The demolishment will have to be postponed by a year because it was entirely funded by the state, Denton said.

However, the campus may see a decline in small projects such as changes to a department office, which would generally be funded by the department's own funds, according to Shaff.

Many departments have faced cuts to their budgets and will not be able to afford these projects as easily.

"I've only seen a couple projects ... be postponed," Denton said. "They were small projects but that could only be the beginning."

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