The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is experiencing serious problems as its aging campus is increasing the school’s maintenance management costs by the millions, with current deferred maintenance levels at $426 million.
According to South Coast Today, interim Provost Alex Fowler said this was the figure as of January, which prompted him to call a Faculty Senate meeting to address the problem. The news comes shortly after a water leak in the school’s Science and Engineering Building caused extensive flooding that left four rooms in need of serious repairs. Now, students say they don’t understand why it is taking so long for the problems to be fixed.
“I had the heat cranked up all the way and it was still frigid today,” said senior Ashley Stone, who lives in the Cedar Dell student residence.
Stone added that her residence can sometimes lose heat or hot water, but the university still doesn’t respond in a timely manner.
John Hoey, a spokesman for the school’s campus maintenance department, stated that the school has been making “tremendous progress” in handling the many maintenance projects that are in the pipeline. The school has even started using its own money to ensure the projects get taken care after, which it had to do after federal funding ran dry a few years ago.
According to the media outlet, Hoey said he had no comment on the students who complain about a slow response to smaller issues, such as a lack of hot water, and would not until he was more knowledgeable on which residences need the most work.
He did say that several maintenance issues have been solved by allocating funds from its energy-efficiency programs into its maintenance department. The Massachusetts government has also stepped in to help, offering as much as $40 million for a library renovation completed earlier in 2013.
UMass Dartmouth is one of several universities around the country that are battling high deferred maintenance costs. Others include universities throughout Iowa and parts of the Midwest.
All renovation activities must adhere to standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which if violated, can lead to costly downtime.
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