Approved by the: University Senate - May 5, 2011
Administration - no action required*
Board of Regents - no action required
* I appreciate the concerns expressed in the statement regarding classroom infrastructure and technology and the intent of the recommendation. Given the current financial uncertainties, however, I cannot endorse so specific a resolution.


Statement on Funding for Classroom Facilities and Technologies

Classroom facilities and technologies require periodic maintenance and replacement, and identification of and planning for lifecycle costs is a fiscally prudent approach to management of classroom facilities and technology infrastructure.

We note with great concern that classroom upgrade work continues to be funded primarily with one-time funds (e.g., capital projects like STSS). The recurring lifecycle costs for these classrooms have not been funded. We are, however, accruing these costs. Given the importance of general-purpose classrooms, we cannot continue to defer these costs without jeopardizing our teaching and learning mission.

Central classroom operational recurring funding levels had risen to 79% of requirements (FY08) then fell to 37% of lifecycle need with recurring cuts in FY10 & 12.  At such low levels, faculty and students will be required to endure facilities and technologies that are substantially beyond their planned lifespan, and whose failure will result in degradation of the learning experience.  The University of Minnesota invested in these spaces, but without maintenance and renewal, at some point the technology, fixtures and furnishings will be inaccessible due to failure. 

Consider an instructor who comes to class prepared to utilize PowerPoint, a DVD, and material from the internet but who finds that one or more parts of the necessary technology are not functioning correctly and cannot be immediately fixed.  Even though the frustrated instructor scrambles to make this class period as effective as possible, the educational experience may be diminished.  While this scenario may occasionally occur even with the best facilities and support staff readily available, we are concerned that chronic underfunding of OCM will cause this to occur more often and seriously hamper effective course delivery.  Students also deserve classroom space that contains furnishings that are not broken and are in reasonably good condition. 

Given the budget reductions and future uncertainty, OCM has placed the following projects on hold:

Project

Cost

Notes

20 Tech. Lifecycle Renewals

$350k

Deferred technology updates to 20 Projection Capable Classrooms

Blegen Hall - 3rd floor, WB

$400k

Remove fixed seating; ADA, Fire/Safety, carpet & finish upgrades

Borlaug 335 & 365, St. Paul

$475k 

Replace 230 seats (no longer supported); carpet & finish upgrades

Ruttan Hall  B25/35/45, St. Paul

$700k

Replace 445 seats (no longer supported); carpet & finish upgrades

Keller 3111/3115/3125/3230, EB

$925k

Replace 315 seats (no longer supported); carpet & finish upgrades

TOTAL

$2.85M

 

The Classroom Advisory Subcommittee (CAS) recommends a minimum level of recurring funding at 50% of lifecycle requirement to maintain the basic-level of maintenance and renewal of classroom infrastructure.  CAS furthermore recommends restoring funding to 80% of need by the 2014-15 biennium, in order to provide a quality standard for classroom facilities, technology and support that is appropriate for a major, nationally ranked university.

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The Senate Committee on Finance and Planning endorses the last paragraph of the statement from the Classroom Advisory Committee and believes that funding for classroom facilities and technologies should be a high priority among the many priorities to be considered.  The Committee expects to participate in discussions about allocation of resources among those priorities.

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