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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Collins: East Quad renovations highlight capital projects priorities

Published: September 9, 2011
Section: News

Even as student financial aid remains a top priority for the university, administrators recognized that building renovations to residence and dining halls are necessary to address student life concerns, Mark Collins, senior vice president for administration, said in an interview Thursday.

In the East Residence Quad, money can be used most effectively to repair dorms because the space houses more than three times the number of students than the Castle, Collins said.

“It’s already been recognized that the resources to support the physical plan are not adequate,” Collins said. “Further analysis is required to determine what is the highest need for renovation.”

When the university announced plans to renovate the Linsey pool facility and campus technology network in March, projects estimated at nearly $10 million, it reflected a decision that addressed both student concerns and budget constraints.

While the $3.5 million to renovate the bill will improve the facility, it presents a construction plan in sharp contrast to the money needed to build an entirely new facility.

A $20 million pool facility, for example, would force the university to sacrifice its commitment to financial aid and student scholarships.

But for a university that saw Carl Shapiro build the science center, campus center and admissions building that now dominate the landscape in lower campus, Collins’ comments on Thursday reflect an administration that seeks to balance student life interests, parents’ financial interests and budget constraints in an economy still recovering from the recession.

Overall Brandeis tuition rates have increased at constant rates and the school is among the most expensive universities in the country. Tuition increases are still at a lower rate than most other colleges, Chief Financial Officer Fran Drolette said in an interview Thursday.

“The university has a limited capacity to increase revenue,” Drolette said. “The increase in tuition is not a decision that’s processed in a vacuum or processed lightly.”

Drolette explained that under university President Fred Lawrence, Brandeis will maintain its commitment to student access, even as it seeks new strategies to balance revenue and costs.

Collins said that financial decisions will continue to reflect student input.

“If not for students, none of us are working here and there is no Brandeis University,” Collins said.