WorkingWithUs

Case Story: Wellesley College

Background

A highly selective private liberal arts institution located in the NE is comprised of 2.5 Million square feet, over 60% of which is beyond 50 years old.  Many of these facilities have historical significance, which inflates replacement values and adds a significant premium to the cost of building repairs and renovations.  The result is a large and growing backlog of over $550 Million ($225/GSF).  The backlog contains many building systems that are beyond their useful lives, which place substantial strain on the facilities department and elevate energy consumption levels.

Approach

Sightlines has been a strategic partner with the college for over 10 years.  Historically, Sightlines was engaged at the Facilities Department level to help inform Facilities leadership of the opportunities within the department.  Starting in FY2009, financial leaders began to explore the benefits of the ROPASM approach, quickly realized the magnitude of exposures within the physical plant, and recognized that the message needed to be heard by leaders in all areas of campus.  In 2010, Sightlines was asked to present the analysis to the president’s executive cabinet.  The following year, Sightlines was asked to present the analysis to the Facilities and Finance Sub-Committee of the Board of Trustees.  The message was well received and became critical information to drive campus change.

Results

The ROPASM analysis gained tremendous attention across campus and after 2 years of exposure, campus leaders were ready to take action.  The plan was to change campus policy in order to free up additional resources for the “keep-up” and “catch-up” requirements of the physical plant. Initially, campus leadership pledged to appropriate additional resources to the Annual Stewardship needs of campus.  They saw this as a critical step to minimize future deferral to the backlog.  In FY2012, the annual stewardship fund grew from $4 Million to $6.5 Million- a 40% increase. The plan is to continue to grow this fund towards an annual investment target.

Lastly, campus leadership recognized that significant financial resources are needed over the next decade for the modernization requirements of many facilities across campus.  The plan is to utilize the ROPASM analysis as a tool to balance their reinvestment strategy and ensure an ongoing appropriation for building systems and infrastructure replacements commensurate with the completion of large-scale modernization initiatives in the future.

“We realize that significant financial resources will be needed to modernize our campus. The ROPASM analysis will help us balance our reinvestment strategy and make sound decisions for the long term.”