volume 42, number 1
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Update on Construction Costs
—By Philip Yannella, Professor of English and American Studies

    A main theme of my earlier Herald articles and letters, including the one I wrote with Professor Marina Angel, was that tens of millions of dollars annually paid by our students as tuition, as fees for instruction, are being siphoned off by Temple’s administration to pay for its large construction program. Over the past several years, the educational and general budget has averaged a surplus of $45 million, and that surplus is what is siphoned off. The direct, inevitable consequence, I have argued, is that college budgets are cut and academic units are squeezed hard. In my department, in the first weeks of the semester, we have already been asked to cut down on photocopying and printing and asked if any of us would volunteer to have our phones disconnected. Such nickel-and-diming usually comes much later in the year. Meanwhile, the construction goes on.
    Now we have learned that the cost of two current construction projects has increased significantly – by $77.6 million, a little less than 40% – over the past several months. The addition to Pearson and McGonigle Halls that was slated to cost $48.3 million is now estimated at $57.7 million. The new dormitory and retail space located on Broad Street at the south end of Main
Campus that was slated to cost $147.4 million is now estimated at $215.6 million. The original plans and estimates at http//:www.temple.edu/2020/projects/ ; the later ones are on the website of Facilities Management at http://www.temple.edu/facilities/current-projects.html.
    These estimate increases mean for us educators that the squeeze on resources will continue for even longer than we might have expected. There is, furthermore, nothing to preclude more estimate increases (or cost overruns), especially for the new dormitory whose design, according to the Facilities Management website, is only 50% complete. Nor is there an acknowledged limit to how much more money can be siphoned off from tuition. Temple administrators have obviously con-cluded that tuition can be raised every year, with little protest from students and virtually none from faculty, and the extra income used not to enhance our underfunded educational programs but to pay for construction. Where else could the construction money come from? Has the State or have donors provided significant funds for these projects? Have we taken on more debt to pay for them?
    Only Medical School students were spared tuition increases this year because, according to the “Proposed Budget FY 2012,” presented to the Board of Trustees at its meeting on June 23, “non-resident tuition is the highest of all medical schools in the country and their resident tuition ranks as the twenty-fifth highest, just $306 less expensive than the University of Pennsylvania.” In other words, the Med School is tapped out. Last month, incidentally, U.S. News published an article that highlighted the sad fact of the Medi-cal School’s distinction of being #1 in non-resident tuition and fees charged: see http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/the-short-list-grad-school/articles/2011/08/30/10-most-expensive-private-medical-schools?s_cid=related-links:TOP