Engineering building awaits funding confirmation

By Jake Rector

Sun Star Reporter

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A contractor prepares the surface of t a support beam on the new UAF engineering building. Photo by Travis Olsen

No small amount of money, $31.3 million is almost 30% of the total budget for the new engineering building. It’s also the portion of the budget the University has yet to acquire.

The University plans to allocate the funds from the state’s 2016 budget. However, they will not know for sure until the spring of 2015 if they have been approved or not, according to vice chancellor of administrative services Pat Pitney. So far the state has contributed $70.3 million to the construction of the engineering building, according to Senior Project Manager Cameron Wohlford.

Those funds, along with the $10.1 million contributed by the University, “Have all been moved into brick and mortar, every penny of it,” Wohlford said.

The University won’t have to repay the state for it’s contributions, but it will have to repay the $10.1 million it contributed. This money will be re-paid to the budget through operating revenues. Pitney says that this will be mostly through research revenues, and that the University does not currently plan to re-pay the funds through student tuitions.

The current level of funding will allow the construction team to continue construction for some time, but it will only cover the cost of finishing the building’s shell and structure.

“Everything else: the labs, floors, and finishings that will make the building usable will have to wait for the rest of the state funding,” Wohlford said.

Until then, they are working on getting the building sealed and warm for winter so that they can continue working on the structural components of the building.

The university is currently part-way through the process of requesting the funds. UAF’s budget was submitted to the Board of Regents (BOR) in September, with the engineering building as the top priority for construction, according to Pitney. BOR will review the budget in November, passing it on to Gov. Sean Parnell if it is approved.

From there Parnell has until Dec. 15 to approve the budget and pass it on to the state legislature.

The legislature begins their review process shortly after re-convening in early January and UAF should know if funding has been approved sometime between February and April.

“With UAF accounting for the majority of engineering graduates across the board, and having doubled the size of the undergraduate program, it seems as though the state will likely approve the budget,” said Pitney.

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