Tackling Deferred Maintenance Requires Bold Policy Shifts

school imageSightlines’ President and CEO Mark Schiff recently commented that, in today’s higher ed environment, new policy directions are essential to mitigating deferred maintenance.  The article published in the August issue of University Business features both industry experts and campus leaders to highlight both sides of the proverbial coin when it comes to budgeting for facilities maintenance in higher education. While the need is great and has grown since 2007, there are realistic strategies for addressing deferred maintenance that can make a difference.

According to a study published by the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama, 86 percent of administrators indicated that renovation and new construction funding for facilities is a major need. Although funding can be difficult to find, some creative thinking can open pathways to progress in stemming the growth (and starting to reduce) backlog levels.

In the article, “Budgeting for building upkeep: Strategies for tackling deferred maintenance across campus,” four higher education institutions (including longtime Sightlines’ members Colgate University in New York and the University of Massachusetts) discuss the strategies being implemented on campus to address deferred maintenance. Some of the solutions presented include prioritizing projects, borrowing funds or finding new revenue streams. Schiff also suggested: shelving new net square footage; consolidating campus functions; monetizing campus noncore facilities; and enacting policies that create consensus for optimizing finite resources.

These campuses’ strategies show what we at Sightlines believe is a key to success. Every institution must understand and address the deferred maintenance risk factors without being overwhelmed by the size of this issue. Institutions must change their conversation about risk management (David Kadamus explored this in a previous blog post) in order to create and preserve thriving campuses going forward. It’s great to see leaders finding ways to be successful.

For full article text click here.


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