The High Costs Of University Maintenance

RENO, NV - The University of Nevada is looking at a $900,000,000 price tag for a backlog in maintenance projects. The Board of Regents got the word at its scheduled meeting. The cost is blamed in part on the recession, during which projects were put on the back burner.

Morrill Hall is the oldest building on UNR's campus.

While it looks it by the architecture, the structure appears to be in pretty good shape.

Talk to students here and many will tell you even in the older buildings, classrooms are updated to keep up with the times.

“The older buildings, they do have new texture and stuff like that where inside the walls are different, and they try to do nice things for the students,” says Yzenia Oliveria, a freshman at the university.

But keeping the buildings current, as well as air conditioned, heated and with no leaky roof comes with a price.

About $900,000,000, according to a study done by the university between 2006 and 2007.

That number reflects the cost of maintaining old and new buildings on campus, and catching up with the backlog of work set aside during the recession.

“Roof systems, because we need to keep our buildings warm and people safe and our equipment inside safe. Secondly, HVAC systems, which means air conditioning and heating systems; it is a priority for us to keep them working. I think thirdly, electrical systems. When we have a power outage, a result of our own equipment, it takes a lot of buildings down and it impacts our facilities' ability to teach students,” says Sean McGoldrick, Facility Services Associate Vice President, when describing his department's priorities from first to third.

And then there's cement, landscaping, hardware and handicapped access, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

McGoldrick says now the question is how to pay for it.

He says there could be a ballot question put before Nevada voters, buildings in the future built by foundations could have the costs added in with the donations, or the university could ask students to pay more.

One student we talked to says she wouldn't object to such a request.

“My tuition is already pretty low; including scholarships, it wouldn't be too big of a challenge for me,” says Brittney Gutierrez, a freshman.

The task force and university regents will take up this topic again in December.

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