U. exposes future construction plans


With the College Avenue Greening Project pushed back, some University students are curious about the status of other projects on campus.

Vice President of Student Affairs Gregory S. Blimling discussed campus construction and budgetary constrictions Tuesday night at the Busch Campus Council meeting.

The overall University budget is about $2 billion a year, of which the state contributes roughly $300 million a year, Blimling said. 

State aid has progressively gone down over time, and since the University cannot constantly raise tuition, it has increased the number of students attending, he said.

"About 14,400 undergraduate and graduate students live in 144 buildings on the five campuses at the University," Blimling said. "We set aside about five to 6,000 rooms for first-year and transfer students and about 8,000 rooms for continuing students."

The continuing housing shortage occurs because 10,000 students are trying to sign in to 8,000 rooms, he said.

"We are about 2,000 beds short," Blimling said.  "On Busch campus, we are building a new residence hall [and] a 500-bed residence hall primarily for students in engineering, biological sciences and other science-based majors."

The University will break ground on the project sometime in March, and the hall will open in the fall of 2011, he said.

Three separate residence halls, which will house 1,500 students, are being built on Livingston campus, Blimling said.

Rutgers University Student Assembly Vice Chair Yousef Saleh, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, asked if there was truth in the rumor that some of the apartments on Livingston would be coed.

"That is a rumor.  There are no coed rooms that we have planned anytime in the future," Blimling said.

He also discussed plans for the Greening Project.

The University shelved the project due to budgetary concerns, mainly because it did not want to pile up more debt at this time, Blimling said. He said as soon as the University's financial health improves, University President Richard L. McCormick would revitalize the plans, as it is one of his signature initiatives.

The other projects, like the Livingston campus residence halls, will continue because they are independently financed, Blimling said.

"All of the other projects have an independent source of financing," he said. "They're funded outside of the general fee.  Residence halls, for example, are funded by the residents who live there."

Blimling said the University does not have an overarching plan, but he detailed a series of recent projects completed or unfolding on Busch campus. For example, the University will be knocking out a few walls at the Busch Dining Hall to create new dining opportunities by 2011.

Some council members are concerned that the governor's midyear budget cuts will affect some of the resources and activities on campus.

Council Treasurer Sai Rapole, a School of Engineering senior, asked if Gov. Chris Christie's midyear cut would affect senior days. Blimling said it would not.

"The University has a lot of different pockets," he said. "The best way to think about this are student fees, and University fees are kept separate.  Senior days are funded with money from student fees."

The University's financial statements are available online at postaward.Rutgers.edu/reports.htm.


Greg Flynn

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