President Caret urges state to provide more capital funding for UMass
Issues call in first legislative testimony
BOSTON - In his first testimony before a legislative committee, University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret today urged the state to provide more funding for the construction and renovation projects taking place on all five UMass campuses.
"During my first month and a half as President, I have visited all five campuses, and I have been impressed by what I have seen in terms of new and renovated facilities. The investments this University has made on capital projects over the past decade are apparent for all to see, whether we are talking about new science facilities, new classrooms or new student recreation centers," President Caret said, testifying before the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.
"While we have taken a major step forward, we must consider the fact that the lion's share of funding for this building boom has come from the University itself, with UMass funding 85 percent and the Commonwealth picking up the remaining 15 percent," President Caret added.
As a result of funding 85 percent of the cost of the $2.4 billion capital program of the past decade, the University has been required to take on significant debt and dedicate operating dollars to fund these projects, President Caret noted.
"While it was important for the University to move forward in the wake of decades of relative inactivity on the capital front, we must note the cost of doing so," President Caret said. "Every dollar we pay in debt service is a dollar that doesn't go to student scholarships or to hiring new faculty. And, while much progress has been made, there remains much to do."
President Caret added: "We need to forge a new partnership that brings about the same result - state-of-the-art facilities for our students and faculty - but that sees the University and the Commonwealth investing in a more equitable fashion. We have a shared responsibility to the citizens of the Commonwealth."
President Caret noted that the University is now entering the second year of a five-year, $2.5 billion capital investment plan that envisions the state funding 30 percent - or double its share of the past decade - of the building and renovation program. Sources of state funding would include the Higher Education Bond Bill and Life Sciences Bond Bill, both passed in 2008, as well as other funding measures.
Projects currently under way include:
"We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to create a partnership that will accrue to the benefit of our students and faculty and will help to drive the Commonwealth's innovation economy for generations to come," President Caret said.
President Caret began his testimony by thanking the chairman of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral (D-New Bedford), for his longtime support of the University.
"Thank you, Chairman Cabral, for your energetic support of UMass Dartmouth - a campus that does so much for the South Coast - as well as for your longtime support for the entire UMass system," President Caret said.
President Caret also said that legislative support was crucial to the University's future.
"We need the support of the Legislature as we advance our mission of education, research and public service and work to improve the quality of life in every region of the Commonwealth," he noted.
Rep. Cabral said he was pleased that President Caret's first testimony on Beacon Hill occurred before his committee, adding: "As a graduate of UMass Dartmouth, I look forward to working with President Caret and with the entire University of Massachusetts community to ensure that our public university students have access to the classrooms, the laboratories and all of the facilities they need to be successful in their careers and lives."
Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073
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