Editor's Note (The View From Here)
Beyond the Statistics
- By Shannon O'Connor
- January 1st, 2019
Welcome to 2019. This issue of College Planning & Management includes our annual Facilities & Construction Brief. For this report, we surveyed you, our readers, to ask about construction on your campuses. You generously provided information on what projects have been recently completed, as well as plans for construction that will get underway or wrap up this year.
The outlook is positive. Three-quarters of respondents completed construction projects in 2018. Slightly more than that (79 percent) indicated that they will complete projects this year, and that same amount will start projects this year as well.
You are balancing these campus improvements—because whether new-from-the-ground-up, additions, or renovations, these construction projects are improving campus life—against a number of challenges. Challenges that include budget and funding issues (although 34 percent saw no change in available funds and 22 percent—up from last year’s 18 percent—noted that more funds are becoming available for construction); complying with local, state, and federal rules and regulations; deferred maintenance backlogs on existing building stock; timing and scheduling constraints; customer (student, administrative, stakeholder, community) expectations; labor and materials availability and quality concerns; weather; and more.
Looking forward to the April issue, we will be featuring our annual Campus Housing Report. The survey underway for that report asks not only nuts-and-bolts questions about what residential projects have been completed, are in the works, or are on the boards (as this Facilities & Construction Brief survey did), but also asks open-ended questions about your challenges and concerns. Beyond the statistics, it is your answers to these questions that provide me with insight into what is on CP&M readers’ minds.
There is clearly a theme as many of your comments focused on resources, from funding to materials to skilled labor. Operational budgets are flat, staff numbers are reduced through retirements or personnel leaving for better opportunities, materials are more difficult to source or are increasingly expensive. Still, you remain focused on your customer: the students who attend your institutions. You continue to design, build, furnish, and maintain the very best facilities you can. Your diligence is noted, and appreciated.
You can read the 2019 Facilities & Construction Brief beginning on page 6.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of College Planning & Management.