U-House monies hit mark

    The $7.2 million project to reconstruct University House, the chancellor’s future residence, is back on track after a year of unsuccessful private funding efforts and will use about $800,000 of campus funding.

    UC President Robert C. Dynes commissioned the reconstruction of the house after a report in summer 2004 found that the property, appraised at $12 million, was not fit to live in and was built on ancient archaeological remains. The project was meant to be funded mostly through private sources, with the UC Office of the President pledging about $1 million.

    However, in spring 2005, former Vice Chancellor of External Affairs James M. Langley announced that a six-month effort to raise donations to construct a new house was unfruitful, forcing UCOP to put the property up for sale.

    Since then, UCOP has allowed the university to continue fundraising, culminating in an announcement last week that sufficient private funds had been secured to save the property.

    The gifts, totaling $4.9 million, come from a total of nine donors, according to Associate Vice Chancellor of University Communications Stacie Spector.

    “We presently have a leadership group comprised of nine donors reflecting four gifts at the $1 million level, one gift at the $500,000 level and four gifts at the $100,000 level,” she stated in an e-mail. “Additionally, several solicitations are outstanding.”

    UCOP, which has suspended the sale of the property, has committed $1.45 million, which leaves the university $850,000 shy of the estimated cost for construction, according to Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning John A. Woods.

    About $800,000 will come from campus funds, depending on the outcome of leftover fundraising requests, Spector said.

    But any amount of money coming from UCOP or the campus is too much, according to Denise Mitchell-Carignan, vice president of the Coalition of University Employees.

    “My opinion is that if they get private funding, I really don’t care,” she said. “But if the funding comes from the state, then it comes from our pockets.”

    In addition, the university is straying from initial promises that the project would not dip into campus funding, Carignan said.

    “Why are we using our own campus funding? They swore up and down that this was a privately funded project,” she said. “I think we should hold their feet to the fire, too, because that’s what they do to us. And $800,000 could do a lot of things for students and faculty at this university.”

    However, UCSD does not have much choice in the matter of housing the chancellor, Spector said.

    “University of California [regents’] policy requires that UC chancellors live in the University House,” she stated. “As is the case at all UC campuses, the UCSD facility serves as both a private residence and a space where many public events are hosted. It is a requirement, not an option.”

    While Mitchell-Carignan understands the requirement, it offers her and other employees little comfort, she said.

    “For San Diego and La Jolla, $1.4 million and $800,000 is not that much,” she said. “And yes, it is part of what’s required of university chancellors to be near their university, so it’s a catch-22. But it doesn’t mean we have to like it.”

    The campus is in the process of planning for the house, using recommendations from the University House Building Advisory Committee, which has met in the last several months.

    The committee is in the final stages of developing a non-site-specific plan to give the chancellor “adequate residential and public meeting spaces,” Woods stated in a press release.

    “Once [the plan is] complete, the BAC will turn its attention to other planning phases, which include a site analysis of the La Jolla Farms property, completion of an architectural design and an environmental impact review,” Woods stated.

    Although preliminary workgroup reviews had recommended tearing down the current house to reduce costs, the BAC will reconsider saving portions of the facility, Spector said.

    Readers can contact Charles Nguyen at [email protected].

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