College Guide


March 30, 2012 5:18 PM Despite Massive Budget Cuts, There’s a Building Boom in U.S. Higher Education

By Jon Marcus

But she also warns that, as state legislatures become stingier about paying for new buildings, public universities are shouldering increasing proportions of construction debt themselves, risking their bond ratings—and, if those bond ratings are lowered, facing even higher interest costs as a result.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University, in partnership with California Watch, where a version originally appeared.

Jon Marcus is a higher education editor at the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.


  • Petey on March 30, 2012 10:21 PM:

    Do you know how many buildings at Berkeley alone require earthquake retrofitting, or need to be replaced entirely? Berkeley is wrapping up a $3 billion campaign, since it gets only 10% of its total funding from the state (yes, ONLY TEN PERCENT). And still it is finding a way to pay the way for all middle class admittees.

    As for medical buildings at UCLA , etc., state law requires every hospital to be rebuilt to new earthquake code standards.

    Please, California taxpayers should thank their lucky stars Berkeley et al. are holding their own. If Cal had the resources it deserves, it would fully, and finally, leave Stanford and the rest in the dust.

  • Texas Aggie on March 31, 2012 12:00 PM:

    I didn't see anywhere that mentioned that prior to the "building boom," universities were in rough shape because their buildings were deteriorating due to lack of funds for maintenance. This is what happens when you don't spend money you don't have on maintenance. Eventually you have to spend a lot more money that you don't have on building.

    I don't think that this article was well thought out.

  • David Martin on March 31, 2012 12:06 PM:

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (excluding the huge medical school) more or less finished the biggest burst of construction in its history just in time for the Great Recession and the collapse of state funding. The construction had been badly needed. In particular, the physical sciences had lousy facilities.

  • Crissa on April 01, 2012 1:19 AM:

    Very few of the California campuses were building while letting facilities go empty. Most of my courses were in borrowed classrooms or overbooked halls - hard to have all the classes you need to graduate if there isn't a space for all of them to be held.

    The bond binge is a big problem, but I think it's bigger than just some buildings.