Construction streamlined by new budget proposal

Gov. Gray Davis has designed a proposal to quicken construction of several UC facilities, including UCSD’s new Engineering Building Unit 3B at Earl Warren College.

Isaac Sullivan

Davis announced the proposal at a UC Davis press conference. Under the plan, funds for the construction projects would be provided in the 2001-2002 economic year rather than in 2002-2003 as earlier planned.

Early funding for the UC projects is part of Gov. Davis’ statewide economic stimulus package.

UC officials from Sacramento to San Diego praised the proposal.

Isaac Sullivan

“”Davis has proposed a wise, far-sighted investment in higher education for the benefit of the state’s overall economic health,”” UC President Richard C. Atkinson said. “”The education and research that will occur in the completed buildings will be a catalyst for California’s economic growth.””

The UC construction projects will receive $279 million if the proposal is approved. EBU 3B will get $37.4 million toward its construction.

“”[The proposal] would be an extremely good development for both the school of engineering and the rest of the campus,”” said Robert Conn, UCSD engineering dean. “”This proposal will move forward the construction process, providing a new home for the engineering and computer science departments. The old spaces in the Applied Physics and Math building will then be available for other programs.””

The $37.4 million for EBU 3B in the governor’s proposal is the same as originally budgeted. However, early financing will likely reduce the building’s cost when inflation is considered.

“”The governor’s proposal is good news, as the advancing of funds will be very beneficial toward the project,”” Assistant Vice Chancellor Boone Hellmann said. “”Any escalation entertained between now and then will be obsolete.””

Along with the engineering and computer science departments, the 87,000-square-foot EBU 3B will house the Warren college provost and the Warren college writing program.

The new building was expected to open in fall 2004. Faced with unexpected delays, it became possible that it would open a year later. However, if Davis’ proposal is passed, officials have said that the original target date will become more probable.

The 2001-2002 UCSD budget includes funding for 1,000 more undergraduate and graduate students in computer science and engineering than the previous year. The increase is part of an eight-year plan to expand enrollments in those departments by 50 percent and requires adding space.

“”Finding available space on campus is becoming increasingly difficult,”” Conn said. “”There is a tremendous need for space and this proposal will benefit the entire campus.””

There are seven projects throughout the UC system that would be covered under Davis’ proposal, all of them necessary to accommodate rapidly increasing student enrollment.

Some projects in the other UC campuses include the new Life Sciences Building at UC Santa Barbara, the Natural Sciences Building at UC Irvine and infrastructure development at the new UC Merced campus.