February 9, 2009

C.U. to Evaluate Building Projects During Pause

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The construction freeze an­nounced by President David Skorton on Oct. 30, 2008 will not affect all building plans and instead will permit several projects to progress.
The construction pause will give the University a chance to re-evaluate “every project that has not got the shovel in the ground,” according to Simeon Moss ’73, director of Cornell Press Relations. The University will, for example, make use of the pause to prioritize and look into the funding of such projects.
There were also several exceptions to the pause. Any building project initiated under the New York State University Construction Fund, for example, was allowed to continue. Work on Martha Van Rennselaer Hall and on the Waste Stream Management Facility at the College of Veterinary Medicine have not been halted.
Additionally, any building project with a construction bid was exempted from the pause. As a result, the suspension will not affect the renovation of Statler Hall, nor will it impact the constructions of Milstein Hall or the Physical Sciences Building between Rockefeller Hall and Baker Hall.
According to Moss, Milstein Hall was “a unique exception” among the building projects.
“[Milstein Hall] is going forward because it has the funding already,” he said.
Additionally, according to Moss, Milstein Hall was “deemed to be a mission-critical project for the University.”
“The reason for this is that the accreditation for the College of Art, Architecture and Planning depends on the building,” he said.
Prominent building projects that were canceled include the construction of a new University Health Services Facility.
Moss emphasized that the amount saved by the construction holds is uncertain, as only projects without contract bids were suspended.
“Because these [projects] have not happened yet, it is difficult to conclude how much money they will specifically save. However, they would in theory defer a spending of approximately $80 million over the course of a year,” he said.
Moss also emphasized that while projects are being evaluated, there have been no cancellations of building projects yet.
In his statement on Oct. 30, 2008, Skorton announced several measures aside from the pause to curtail the impact of the economic crisis. These measures included a pause on non-professional hiring from outside the University, and a “rigorous 45-day University-wide review of operational effectiveness, financial policies and procedures” that was geared towards finding ways to manage costs and streamline operations.
Skorton explained that the 90-day pause would be used to “align funding sources and uses more realistically.”
On Jan. 25, Skorton announced that the construction pause would be extended to last until June 30, the end of the fiscal year 2008-2009.
Cornell had many building projects underway at the time of Skorton’s announcement. In order to determine which projects would be suspended, the criteria in the chart was applied.