Bond Pushes Building Projects

    UCSD’s share of the state’s voter-approved education bond has been diverted into several budgets for construction and development, providing robust financial backing for several unfinished campus projects.

    The measure, Proposition 1D, issued a $10.4 billion bond to the state’s universities and K-12 schools, of which UCSD will receive $94.5 million. The funds’ uses will range from simple retrofitting – such as the restoration of aged structures to earthquake-safe standards – to massive building projects. UCSD will see both kinds of construction.

    Much of the funds to be used on Mayer Hall will be for safety upgrades, including a sprinkler system and other fire deterrents. The building, built in the 1960s, will also update its laboratories with modernized equipment.

    The bulk of the proposition’s funding, however, will go to a multimillion-dollar project to construct a 110,000 square-foot building for several departments, including structural engineering and visual arts. The structure will feature artist studios and hands-on laboratories. The university plans to use $75 million from Proposition 1D for the project.

    Also, a previously underfunded project to build a $50 million facility for the music department will receive $2.2 million through the proposition. Last month, university officials were faced with a budget shortfall; rising construction costs and inflation had forced the building’s budget up from the originally allotted $42 million. Even private donations and reserve funding could not make up the difference. The proposition’s funding has since closed the budget gap, and will be used for audio systems and pianos.

    The Rady School of Management will also benefit from the proposition, with a $1 million allocation. The ongoing construction project, originally conceived in 2001, has faced funding hurdles, with the university using $12.5 million of its own funds to float the cost of the project.

    Although the business school already enrolls students, its permanent facility is still in the planning stages, with first-stage completion slated for 2007. The money acquired from Proposition 1D will go toward the second phase of construction, which should be finished by 2011.

    Also, the campus will use $3.2 million from the measure to upgrade the campus’ chilled water and electrical distribution systems.

    The UC Board of Regents, as well as UC President Robert C. Dynes, endorsed the bond as essential legislation for California’s public universities, some of which have severely outdated classrooms and facilities.

    “”[The University of California’s] role in educating the future workforce, developing new technologies and keeping our state economically competitive depends upon the availability of safe, modern facilities,”” Dynes stated in a press release.

    More classrooms and better facilities will also help the university accommodate ballooning enrollment growth, Dynes stated.

    The bond will also loan $200 million, over a two-year period, to improve medical education programs. Specifically, that portion of the funds will be used for facility and equipment enhancement used in the UC-wide “”Programs in Medical Education,”” which was established to improve healthcare for the state’s underserved.

    “”Through the expansion of telemedicine and other innovative efforts, the funding in Proposition 1D will make a real difference for Californians who need better access to health care,”” Dynes stated.

    Voters have approved two education bonds since 2002, loaning $345 million to UC schools over four years for similar purposes.

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