Scientific and Engineering Research Facilities at Colleges and Universities: 1998

Chapter 4
The Repair/Renovation of S&E Research Facilities


Highlights top

Introduction top

After years of deferring building repair projects, many of the Nation’s colleges and universities have begun pushing aggressively to fund improvements to college facilities.[19] In this chapter, we examine the extent to which research-performing colleges and universities were engaged in the repair/renovation of science and engineering research facilities in 1996 and 1997 and the fields in which this activity occurred.

As was the case for construction in Chapter 3, institutions were asked to estimate the research-related costs and space for repair/renovation projects begun during fiscal years 1996 and 1997, and to make the same estimates for projects scheduled to begin in fiscal years 1998 and 1999. The project start-up time was defined as the fiscal year in which actual work began (or was expected to begin). In the case of projects conducted over multiple years, total project costs were allocated to the fiscal year in which the repair/renovation began. Note, however, that the costs and parameters of multiyear projects can change between the time a project begins and the time it is completed.

The reported financial commitments, defined as the cost to complete a project, included planning, site preparation, fixed equipment, and building infrastructure. Projects costing over $100,000 and those costing between $5,000 and $100,000 were reported separately.

It should be noted that fluctuations in repair/renovation spending from one year to another can result from large projects at a small number of institutions. Given the costs of repairing/renovating S&E research facilities, a large increase could reflect a big project on one or two campuses. Indeed, this is often the case for the nondoctorate-granting institutions.

This year, for the first time, institutions were asked to report any nonfixed equipment costing $1 million or more that was included as part of their repair/renovation costs for fiscal years 1996 and 1997. If a project were to serve both research and nonresearch purposes, repair/renovation costs and space estimates were to be prorated to reflect the research-related portion of the cost and space (see Items 4a, 4b, and 4c in Appendix C [PDF]).

Findings top

Funds Committed to the Repair/Renovation of S&E Research Facilities top

Research-performing institutions committed a total of $1.5 billion to the repair/renovation of science and engineering research facilities in 1996 and 1997. This is 22 percent more (in constant dollars) than they committed to new repair/renovation projects in the last survey period ($1.3 billion).

Between fiscal years 1994 and 1995 and fiscal years 1996 and 1997, doctorate-granting institutions and nondoctorate-granting institutions increased the amount of funds committed to new repair/renovation projects:


Table 4-1. Trends in funds committed to repair/renovate science and engineering research facilities by institution type and cost of project: 1986-97
Table 4-1 (Spreadsheet format)

Financial commitments to repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000 constituted 86 percent of all repair/renovation funds in 1996 and 1997. Funds committed to these types of repair/renovation projects increased by 19 percent since the last survey (from $1,116 million to $1,325 million). Funds for projects costing over $100,000 increased at doctorate-granting institutions and nondoctorate-granting institutions during both of these time periods (figure 4-1):


Figure 4-1. Trends in funds committed to science and engineering research facilities repair/renovation projects costing more than $100,000 by institution type: 1986-97

Total funds committed to new repair/renovation projects costing less than $100,000 increased by 46 percent since the last survey, from $142 million to $208 million. In 1996 and 1997, these less expensive projects accounted for 14 percent of all funds committed to new repair/renovation projects. Since the last survey, all institution types increased their allocations to these kinds of projects (table 4-1):

A subset of 383 research-performing institutions were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples. These institutions actually committed in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 close to the amounts that in the 1996 survey they had estimated they would commit to new repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000; they would start in 1996 and 1998.[20]  They were scheduled to commit $1,188 million and actually committed $1,145 million, a difference of $43 million or 4 percent. The doctorate granting institutions committed fewer funds than they had planned:


Table 4-2. Scheduled and actual repair/renovation commitments for projects costing more than $100,000 for science and engineering research space by institution type: 1996-97
Table 4-2 (Spreadsheet format)

Funds Committed to Repair/Renovation Projects as a Proportion of Total Capital Projects top

The share of total capital project funds committed to initiate the repair/renovation of S&E research space has risen in each survey period since data were first collected on this topic in 1990–91.[21] In the 1990–91 period, total financial commitments to repair/renovation projects—both under and over $100,000—represented 25 percent of all capital project commitments. In the most recent survey period (1996–97), these commitments grew to 33 percent of all capital projects (table 4-3).

Table 4-3. Funds committed to science and engineering repair/renovation as a percentage of total capital project expenditures by institution type: 1990-97
Table 4-3 (Spreadsheet format)

Between 1990–91 and 1996–97, the proportion of funds committed to new repair/renovation projects as a function of total capital projects increased substantially at the following types of institutions:

Between the last survey period (1994–95) and the current one, the proportion of funds committed to new repair/renovation projects as a function of total capital projects by the nondoctorate-granting institutions increased from 20 to 42 percent. However, the proportion of funds committed by these institutions has fluctuated by roughly 20 percentage points from survey period to survey period.

Funds Scheduled for the Repair/Renovation of S&E Research Facilities and Central Campus Infrastructure top

For fiscal years 1998 and 1999, research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit $1.6 billion to S&E repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000. Most of this repair/renovation is scheduled to occur among the doctorate-granting institutions, the top 100 institutions in particular. Doctorate-granting institutions plan to commit 23 percent or $257 million more to new repair/renovation projects in fiscal years 1998 and 1999 than they did in 1996 and 1997 (from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion). Top 100 institutions plan to commit 19 percent or $166 million more (from $857 million to $1,023 million) (tables 4-4 and 4-1).

Table 4-4. Funds scheduled for the repair/renovation of science and engineering research facilities and central campus infrasctructure by institution type: 1998-99
Table 4-4 (Spreadsheet format)

Research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit $983 million to new central campus infrastructure repair/renovation projects in 1998 and 1999. These funds are distributed among the institution types as follows:

Overall, research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit fewer funds to new S&E facilities repair/renovation projects as they are scheduled to commit to new S&E construction projects ($1.6 billion versus $3.9 billion). By contrast, research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit more than twice as much to new central campus infrastructure repair/renovations projects in 1998 and 1999 as they are scheduled to commit to new central campus infrastructure construction projects ($983 million versus $396 million). (See table 3-4 for funds committed to scheduled construction of research facilities and central campus infrastructure.)

Colleges and Universities Starting S&E Repair/Renovation Projects top

In 1996 and 1997, slightly over half (52 percent) of all research-performing institutions reported that they initiated repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000 (table 4-5). More institutions started new repair/renovation projects in 1996 and 1997 than started new construction projects (52 percent compared with 30 percent). (See table 3-5 for the proportion of institutions starting construction projects.)

Table 4-5. Trends in the percentage of institutions starting projects to repair/renovate science and engineering research facilities by institution type: 1986-99
Table 4-5 (Spreadsheet format)

In 1986–87, a higher proportion of doctorate-granting institutions in general, and top 100 institutions in particular, started repair/renovation projects than began them in the current survey period (1996–97), while a lower proportion of other doctorate-granting institutions started new construction projects:

In 1998 and 1999, 46 percent of research-performing institutions are scheduled to start new S&E repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000. This proportion is less than the proportion of institutions that started repair/renovation projects in 1986 and 1987 (56 percent).

A separate analysis of the 383 institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples reveals that 151 or 79 percent of all research-performing institutions that had scheduled new repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000 for 1996 or 1997 actually undertook them (table 4-6).[22] The top 100 institutions’ actions were more consistent with their plans to repair/renovate new S&E research facilities than that of the other types of institutions. Overall, 126 or 86 percent of doctorate-granting institutions acted in accordance with their plans, as did 74 or 96 percent of top 100 institutions and 52 or 74 percent of other doctorate-granting institutions.

Table 4-6. Number of institutions starting science and engineering research facilities repair/renovation projects costing more than $100,000 and whether repair/renovation was scheduled by institution type: 1996-97
Table 4-6 (Spreadsheet format)

It is also worth noting that 64 or 33 percent of institutions that had not scheduled repair/renovation projects for 1996 and 1997, did, in fact, start new projects in 1996 and 1997. Overall, 48 or 44 percent of doctorate-granting institutions began repair/renovation projects that were not reported as scheduled, with 17 or 77 percent of top 100 institutions doing so.

Fields in Which Repair/Renovation Projects Started top

Since 1986–87 there has been some change in the proportion of institutions starting new repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000 in specific S&E fields (table 4-7). The proportion of institutions starting repair/renovation projects declined in two fields:

The proportion of institutions starting repair/renovation projects increased in two fields:

In four fields, the proportion of institutions starting repair/renovation projects increased from the last survey period:

In one field, the medical sciences in medical schools, the proportion declined from 57 to 41 percent.

The proportion of institutions scheduled to start new repair/renovation projects costing over $100,000 in 1998 and 1999 is expected to change over 1996–97 levels in four fields:


Funds Committed to S&E Research Facilities Repair/Renovation Projects in Different Fields top

Five fields account for more than three quarters (76 percent) of the $1.3 billion committed to the repair/renovation of S&E research facilities by research- performing institutions in fiscal years 1996 and 1997; three of these fields are in the biomedical sciences:


Table 4-8. Trends in funds committed to repair/renovate science and engineering research facilities for projects costing over $100,000 by field: 1986-99
Table 4-8 (Spreadsheet format)

The amount of funds committed to new repair/renovation projects increased in three fields since 1986–87:

At the same time, funds decreased by 48 percent in the computer sciences, from $23 million to $12 million, and by 15 percent in the medical sciences in medical schools, from $230 million to $196 million.

Since the last survey period, the amount of funds committed to the repair/renovation of S&E research facilities increased in four fields and decreased in one. Funds increased in the following fields:

The medical sciences in medical schools was the only field to experience a decrease in repair/renovation funds since the last survey. Institutions’ financial commitment to this field declined by 18 percent, from $238 million to $196 million.

In 1998 and 1999, funds committed to new repair/renovation projects are scheduled to increase over 1996–97 levels in five fields, with allocated funds expected to more than triple in three fields:

At the same time, funds are expected to decrease in only one field, the biological sciences in medical schools. Institutions are scheduled to commit 43 percent fewer funds to this field in 1998 and 1999 than they did in 1996 and 1997 (a decrease from $164 million to $93 million).

Funds Committed to Nonfixed Equipment Costing Over $1 Million in Repair/Renovation Projects top

In 1996 and 1997, nine doctorate-granting institutions (4 top 100 institutions and 5 other doctorate-granting institutions) committed a total of $30.9 million to nonfixed equipment costing $1 million or more in their new S&E repair/renovation projects. This is 63 percent more than they committed to nonfixed equipment costing over $1 million in their S&E construction projects (see table 3-9).

These repair/renovation commitments occurred in only six fields (biological sciences inside and outside medical schools, medical sciences inside and outside medical schools, the physical sciences and engineering).[23]  These 1996 and 1997 commitments at the nine doctorate-granting institutions represent 62 percent of total repair/renovation commitments in these fields:



Footnotes

[19] Peter Schmidt. (1998, June 12). A building boom for public colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A29-A30.

[20] The scheduled 1996–97 data come from National Science Foundation/Division of Science Resources Studies, 1996 Survey of Scientific and Engineering Research Facilities at Colleges and Universities. Because this analysis is limited to the subset of research-performing institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples, the results do not generalize to the population of research-performing institutions.

[21] Trends are reported from the 1990 and 1991 fiscal years because this was the first time period for which institutions reported repair/renovation expenses for projects costing over $100,000 and for projects costing less than $100,000.

[22] Because the analysis is limited to the subset of research-performing institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples, the results do not generalize to the population of research-performing institutions.

[23] Some institutions committed funds to nonfixed equipment costing over $1 million in more than one field.


Previous Section Top of page Next Section Table of Contents Help SRS Homepage