The nationwide economic downturn has hit campus construction projects and halted most of them.
The predictable slowdown in giving during a recession coupled with a decline in the value of the University’s endowment because of the stock market’s slide forced administrators to rethink what had been an ambitious slate of construction projects.
Work on the new combination post office and police station ceased in autumn 2002 following completion of the foundation. Other projects not yet begun but now in limbo include: a new campus hotel at the site of the current police station; new facilities and offices for the football program at the Loftus Sports Center; an expansion of the law school that would double its size; a new engineering building; an elaborate science learning center next to the Joyce Center; and expansion and renovation of the Joyce Center.
Father Malloy said capital projects have been reprioritized with academic and student-life enterprises moving to the front of the schedule. Thus construction continues on the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled for completion in August 2004, as does renovation of the library basement and a student-life project, the conversion of Alumni-Senior Club into a full-service restaurant following the 2002 football season.
Last year the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution requiring 75 percent of a capital project’s funding be in hand before construction begins. The other 25 percent must be expected within the next five years. In the past a plant-fund reserve provided insurance in case pledged gifts were delayed or evaporated, but that reserve has dwindled.
In an interview with the South Bend Tribune Malloy noted that overall giving to colleges and universities declined last year for the first time since 1975. He said many colleges and universities were instituting budget cuts and even layoffs.
“This is not in any sense a crisis,” he said of Notre Dame. “We are financially sound, but we are not immune from the financial pressures the rest of higher education is facing.”