The College of Veterinary Medicine has long been planning for new space to alleviate over-crowding and to allow us to abandon some truly awful research space.
The legislative session that just ended was very good to us in this regard. Two important projects were approved by the legislature. I say "approved" rather than "funded" because the state actually did not appropriate the funds, but rather approved the university to issue bonds to borrow the money needed for design and construction of two projects. These are:
1) $6.2 million in funding to put toward the $10 million match we need for the $25 million Gates Foundation gift. This gets us much closer to construction of the $35 million dollar Global Animal Health Phase I facility that we need for the new School for Global Animal Health to flourish.
2) Almost $96 million in funding to design and construct the Veterinary Medical Research Building that will be the next building in WSU's Research and Education Complex. This will mostly benefit neuroscience and muscle biology research programs of the VCAPP Department.
This is an outstanding result for our college and good news indeed in these times where it seems that most of the news is bad. Not only will these programs be advanced, but the overall result will be repurposing of existing space that will benefit the whole college.
I want to comment about the funding mechanism. The university will borrow the funds to build these buildings and pay off the bonds with income from our land grants (we are a land grant university, after all). This is a creative and thoughtful move by the legislature, not only because of the tough budget times, but because even in good economic times it is a way to accelerate acquisition of space needed for growing research programs at a research university. Inevitably, some will think it is inappropriate to build buildings when the operating budget is getting cut, with layoffs as a result. In fact, the legislature transferred about $750 million from capital budget to operating budget to minimize the operating cut. This left them with virtually no capital budget. The university can borrow funds to build buildings, but not to operate. So, by authorizing us to do this, the legislature did minimize the operating budget cuts in the state, but still allowed us to move ahead with borrowed funds. In so doing, they not only helped us keep growing and moving ahead to be stronger when the economy recovers, this $130 million in construction will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy over the next 3 to 4 years.