Planning for deferred maintenance is a lot like saving for retirement — we know we should put money aside from the beginning. But the time for which it will be needed seems so far off that we dedicate the funds to more immediate concerns. Financing might become more available in the future, so why worry now? But then, in an aging research lab, a water pipe bursts, flooding the entire building, and options are few.
Competition for donor dollars continues to intensify, along with pressure to control tuition costs and rising student debt, increasing salaries and benefits, debt service costs, and technology expenditures. Setting aside monies for future maintenance may not be top of mind for boards, presidents and donors, but it must be done. The concept of saving for deferred maintenance is not new, but in recent years, attention to this matter has waned in light of more pressing issues.
However, we are seeing progressively minded leadership now starting to take up this cause at leading colleges and universities. Aging buildings, along with a focus on more energy-efficient uses, have brought this issue to the forefront.
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for guidance in how your institution can establish a plan to maintain its physical infrastructure by thinking long term; collaborating and communicating with the campus community; educating the board, faculty, students and potential funders about deferred maintenance obligations; disclosing rating and accreditation agencies and others the funds held in reserve for building improvements; practicing funded depreciation; expanding resource planning; and working creatively with funders.
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