Testimony Presented To
The House Education and Economic Development Subcommittee
The Senate Capital Budget Subcommittee
By President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, Ph.D.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Janet Dudley-Eshbach, and I am proud to be completing my ninth year as the President of Salisbury University, a University that continues to earn national eminence, as captured in our moniker A Maryland University of National Distinction. I am grateful for the opportunity to testify in support of the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2010 Capital Budget and to share with you Salisbury University’s most pressing capital needs.As a University System of Maryland designated growth institution, I am pleased to report that Salisbury University again met and exceeded its 2008-2009 target for enrollment. Our student demand last fall was the highest in our history, when more than 7,200 applicants vied for 1,200 freshman seats. We are competing for Maryland’s best and brightest students, we are enrolling them, and we are keeping them. Our student quality is the highest in our history. And our average second-year retention rate of 81 percent ranked second among our national performance peers in fall 2007—and that retention rate is increasing.
The success of our growing student body also brings challenges, however, as we struggle to accommodate additional students within our limited supply of classrooms, laboratories, parking lots, and residential space. Your past support of Salisbury University’s capital requests has allowed us to expand our academic space, for which I am extremely grateful. I was proud to cut the ribbon for SU’s new Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC) last fall. This building transformed the face of campus by virtue of its distinctive design and prominent location at the intersection of U.S. Route 13 and College Avenue. The TETC’s state-of-the-art facilities are providing the finest technology available for students on campus, while enabling expansion of needed programs in other areas of the State through distance education. This new facility allows SU to attract more students and the nation’s best faculty to our teacher education and professional programs which support vital State workforce needs.
The $54.3 million in the Fiscal Year 2010 Capital Budget will enable Salisbury University to continue the addition of much-needed academic space with the construction of a 112,800 square-foot building that will replace and expand the facilities currently supporting the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business and its academic, research, and public service programs. Included in this cost is $12 million in private donations, most notably an $8 million donation from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation. We believe that our ability to generate support of this magnitude for the Perdue School of Business underscores the extraordinary contribution the School makes to our State’s economy, business climate, and workforce.
The Perdue School has expanded its undergraduate student enrollment from 1,281 to 1,678 over the last five years— a 31 percent increase that ranks as the fastest rate of growth among Salisbury’s four academic schools. In recent years, the Perdue School had been housed in Holloway Hall, which also serves as Salisbury University’s main administrative building and a venue for larger performances and ceremonies. Space limitations in that location required that the Perdue School relocate certain courses to other academic buildings. In the last year, the main classroom and office facilities for the Perdue School have moved from Holloway Hall to a new temporary home in Caruthers Hall. As one of the oldest buildings on campus, however, Caruthers Hall has inadequate systems and does not provide the modern classrooms and learning spaces that today’s students demand, and which have proven important to students’ successful outcomes.
The new Perdue School of Business building will allow Salisbury University to accommodate the continued enrollment growth expected as a result of market demand and the growing reputation of the School. This new facility also will provide a hub of activity for many of the University’s most successful corporate outreach and workforce development initiatives, which are now scattered at multiple sites due to space constraints. For example, our successful Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON)—which provides our region’s business leaders with information on consumer trends, demographic data, sector forecasts, and other market information—is housed in a two-story house off the main campus. The Eastern Region Maryland Small Business Development Center is currently located in converted office space across U.S. Route 13. These programs, which make important contributions to the workforce readiness of our graduates, will finally conduct business under the same roof.
The new Perdue School of Business will be located on Route 13 near the main entrance of the campus. Because of this prominent location, it is important to provide the signature details that make the building identifiable as a facility of higher education and reinforce visual connections with other buildings on campus. The three-story building will be primarily brick and will blend features of both the TETC and Henson Science Hall. The building will contain 20 classrooms, one computer and four business labs, a 200-seat auditorium which can double as a large classroom, student lounges, break-out rooms, faculty and administrative offices, and the Perdue Museum. The facility will allow students, faculty, and the community to engage in both traditional and experiential learning settings. As the University’s first building designed with silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, it will be a model of sustainability. Some of the environmental highlights include use of at least 20 percent recycled materials, state-of-the- art energy systems projected to use 24 percent less heating and cooling than similar classroom buildings, a minimum of 75 percent construction waste being recycled, and many bicycle racks to encourage students, faculty, and staff to consider alternate modes of transportation.
The capital investments contained in Governor O’Malley’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget will keep our Perdue School of Business building on schedule for timely opening in fall 2011. When complete, this state-of-the-art facility will enable Salisbury University to accommodate significant enrollment growth, build upon our nationally acclaimed academic standards, and sustain our proven record of success in workforce development. These are the priorities that this subcommittee has supported so consistently in recent years, and it is in that spirit of gratitude that I respectfully ask for your support of this budget.
Salisbury University has requested planning funding for our next critical facility need—a new library, or, as it is envisioned, the Academic Commons. Though the USM had supported $6 million for planning in 2014, we were disappointed that the project was not recommended by the Department of Budget and Management in 2014. SU’s Blackwell Library was built in 1958 for a student body of fewer than 3,000, less than half our current size. The building lacks modern conveniences, is not accessible, and does not provide the space and configuration favored by today’s students. It does not provide the learning environment that equals the reputation of our academic programs. A new Academic Commons would provide expanded space for books, journals, and other research resources; the Center for Academic Achievement critical to our efforts to close the achievement gap; space for the Edward H. Nabb Center for Delmarva History and Culture; classrooms and other spaces for group study; a cyber café; and many other venues dedicated to research and learning. We recognize and appreciate the challenge of distributing limited capital funding to the many capital demands across the State. We respectfully request, however, that this significant and most basic need, which would benefit our students in innumerable ways, be given priority for capital funding in the years to come. Thank you for this opportunity to testify and for your consideration.
The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) believes that the new Perdue School of Business building is a good candidate for phased funding since construction is scheduled to span two full fiscal years. DLS recommends an authorization of $20,718,000 which when combined with half of the funds forthcoming from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and the $4 million from Salisbury University will provide half of the total construction costs. The remaining State funds needed to complete the construction funding are recommended for pre-authorization for fiscal 2011.
The University is not requesting a level of funding different from the Governor’s CIP, but we are asking for the funds to be appropriated in a manner more consistent with the Governor’s request. The University has made a commitment to obtain $12 million in private funds to build this building and has been fundraising to meet that target. While we understand the concept and possible applicability of phased funding as it relates to capital projects, the phased funding as recommended for the new Perdue School of Business building places in jeopardy our project and the commitment of private funding. The DLS analyst’s recommendation causes two potentially large issues for Salisbury University: First, it assumes that the construction will be completed equally over two years. Second, the aforementioned $12 million in private funds are being raised on a timetable to coincide with the nearly two-year construction period and some of the private funding will not be available for use in FY 2010.
In terms of the construction timetable, our newly opened Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC) was constructed in 23 months and is about 1.5 times larger than this Perdue School of Business building. In addition, Holder, Inc., the same general contractor for the TETC, will be the general contractor for the new Business School building, allowing for extremely efficient communications between parties and rapid progress on the actual construction. Also, the University has conferred with its liaisons at the University of Maryland A&E Service Center and their expectation is that very likely 60 percent or more of the construction will be completed within the first 12 months. In other words, the construction completion phase will likely exceed 50 percent prior to the end of the fiscal year, and it is untenable that the project would sit idle in anticipation of the release of more State construction appropriation. The University requests that, at a minimum, 60 percent of the State funds for construction be appropriated in FY 2010 to ensure no construction related delays as a result of phased funding.
If phased funding is to be used for a capital project that includes private funds for construction, it is imperative that the phased funding plan be articulated when first designated within the CIP and not, as has become the case for the Perdue School building, at the point of allocation of construction funds. As mentioned in my testimony, Salisbury University has been very fortunate to receive a gift of $8 million from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation to use toward construction of this building. Per the agreement, the funds from the Perdue Foundation are to be distributed at different intervals throughout the construction cycle. In accordance with the schedule, $2 million is available immediately, $2 million will be distributed with the FY 2010 construction funds, $2 million will be distributed at the beginning of FY 2011, and the final distribution will occur at project completion. Further, the University established a target date of June 30, 2011, to fulfill the additional $4 million requirement (beyond the Perdue total commitment of $8 million) for non-budgeted funds for this project. This date not only coincides with the projected completion of the building but also with the USM-prescribed timeline for the end of Salisbury University’s capital campaign.
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