December 14, 2001
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The Commission on Higher Education today adopted a systemwide higher education capital planning report, providing data on current physical plants and the long-range capital plans of New Jersey's colleges and universities. The report, which the New Jersey Presidents' Council approved last Monday, urges state policy makers to determine how the state will maintain its capital assets now and into the future to meet immediate and growing demands for higher education services.

"The Commission and Presidents' Council initiated a statewide planning process earlier this year to forecast higher education capital needs based on solid data collection and informed cost projections that institutions specified in their seven-year capital plans," said James E. Sulton, Jr., executive director of the Commission. "Through cooperative planning efforts, the state, counties, and institutions can better meet higher education demands and ensure efficient utilization of resources."

The report, Higher Education Capital Planning for New Jersey's Future, presents comprehensive data on the capital infrastructure and physical plants of 42, two- and four-year public and independent institutions, which encompass more than 15,000 acres of land, 2,000 buildings, and 54 million total gross square feet of building space. In addition to presenting an overview of distinctly different physical plants, the report provides information on statewide demographic and economic trends, long-term projections of capital needs, and potential funding mechanisms to address them.

Stressing the effects of changing demographics, the growing number of high school graduates and nontraditional students, and the increasing demands of a knowledge-based, high-tech economy, the Commission calls for the state to address fundamental challenges related to the physical condition and capacity of New Jersey's colleges and universities.

"Most of New Jersey's colleges and universities are operating at or close to full capacity and are not prepared to serve significantly more students," said Dr. Sulton. "Clear policy guidance is a must to guarantee that we make strategic investments to secure access for all students and ensure the state's economic competitiveness."

New Jersey's colleges and universities rely on state support to varying degrees. The state is the primary funding source for its 12 senior public institutions, and it provides support for 19 community colleges in partnership with county governments. The independent colleges and universities with a public mission also receive state funding assistance.

As revealed in their long-range capital plans, the 42 institutions have identified capital projects for construction and renovation estimated in excess of $4.7 billion over the next seven years. During the same time period, they estimated $481 million for equipment and technology needs. The report emphasizes that these capital needs are a shared responsibility and will require multi-source funding from the state, counties, institutions, and external resources.

Based on national planning standards and the combined overall replacement value of more than $9 billion for the 42 institutions, systemwide preservation and maintenance costs are estimated between $140 million and $280 million annually. The institutions report current deferred maintenance projects totaling approximately $541 million.

The report seeks an appropriation of approximately $73 million in the FY 2003 state budget for maintenance and preservation at eight state colleges and universities and three public research universities, which rely primarily on annual state capital appropriations to address maintenance needs. The Commission advocates careful evaluation and consideration of both existing and new funding mechanisms to provide predictable, ongoing state funds at different levels among the four sectors to assist in addressing other projected institutional capital needs.

NOTE: The full text of the report is available HERE.
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