Sightlines Study Finds $8.4 Billion in Deferred Maintenance at Schools of Agriculture in U.S.

Comprehensive survey for Association of Public and Land-grant Universities finds startling backlog in repairs on campus facilities

Sightlines and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today released a comprehensive study that found there is a collective total of $8.4 billion in deferred maintenance at the buildings and supporting facilities at schools of agriculture authorized to receive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding. Perhaps even more alarming, the study found that 29 percent of the asset value of these campus buildings has deteriorated as a result of deferred maintenance.

The study was conducted for APLU by Sightlines, a leader in helping academic institutions better manage their facilities and capital investment strategies.

Deferred maintenance refers to the postponement of maintenance activities and capital investments — such as repairs on property, facilities and machinery — in order to match limited budgets or realign available resources.

“These study results confirm the suspected magnitude of a problem that must be addressed if our institutions are going to continue to be able to conduct the high-quality research that is at the cutting edges of the science and education enterprises,” said Ian L. Maw, Vice President of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources at APLU. “While specific strategies to address this issue are suggested in this report, it is also clear that the responsibility to ameliorate it resides with no single entity, but rather a coalition of federal and state governments, as well as campus leadership.”

Founded in 1887, APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and higher education organizations. Sightlines studied deferred maintenance in buildings on campuses that house agriculture, forestry, veterinary sciences, food sciences and human sciences academic programs, and agriculture extension sites. These buildings are used to conduct major research funded by the USDA, as well as other public and private entities.

The Sightlines/APLU study assessed more than 15,000 buildings that have a combined current replacement value of $29 billion. Sightlines used a methodology that included a survey of 101 colleges and universities, accompanied by a comprehensive building-by-building inventory of agriculture and agriculture-related space, and detailed reports on deferred maintenance in those buildings. The survey received a 90 percent participation rate (91 responding institutions).

The full report is available for download here.