Capital plan cut by $300 million in the face of economic downturn

Nov. 24, 2008, 4:06 p.m.

University officials have decreased Princeton's 10-year, $3.9 billion capital plan by $300 million, delaying construction on some projects and scaling back on others.

The action was taken in response to the current economic climate.

"We want to have the right equilibrium between resources and expenditures," said Mark Burstein, executive vice president. "The University is making prudent adjustments at this point, recognizing that further changes may become necessary later when we have a fuller understanding of general economic conditions."

Administrators reviewed the plan with trustees this past weekend, and intend to continue to monitor it over the coming months.

Construction of the neuroscience and psychology buildings, which was tentatively slated to begin in June 2009 south of Icahn Laboratory, will be delayed by one year. Several other projects will be delayed beyond the end of the plan in 2016. These include: the construction of a storage facility for the Princeton University Art Museum at the Forrestal Campus; the construction of an art museum satellite as part of the proposed arts and transit neighborhood; the renovation of Green Hall for the humanities and social sciences after it is vacated by the psychology department; and the development of new faculty and staff apartments near Dean Mathey Court at Harrison Street and Faculty Road.

In addition, some of the funds available for renovations and landscaping connected with major capital projects have been decreased. Excluding funds already spent or irrevocably committed, the $300 million decrease represents a 12 percent cut in the capital plan budget.

As discussed at two University forums earlier this month, the University is in a solid financial position due to long-term planning efforts, the strength of its endowment and alumni giving. However, in order to meet commitments to the University's highest priorities, including academic programs and financial aid, officials will continue to monitor the financial environment. The Office of Financial Aid is estimating it will spend an additional $3 million to $4 million this year to meet the increased need of students.