Revitalizing USD’s Future

Rendering of USD's new Business School


When it comes to reasons why we tend to ignore the adage that one shouldn’t put off to tomorrow what is better done today, most of us can offer up a dozen excuses without breaking a sweat. Whether it’s avoiding scheduling that annual checkup, procrastinating about finally getting a quote to have the roof replaced or postponing a trip to the dentist, the universal human condition suggests that we’re hard-wired to put off prosaic tasks until there’s simply no option to ignore them for a moment longer.

Thankfully, the University of San Diego is not following in the footsteps of the average Joe; USD is willing to face the fact that the time has come to hunker down and do what needs to be done.

“Across the country, there is a growing crisis of deferred maintenance on campuses,” says Ky Snyder, vice president of university operations. “And at USD, we have $312 million of deferred maintenance that’s coming due over the next 10 years.”

While that dollar amount is certainly jaw-dropping, the good news is that careful consideration of how to solve the problem in a thoughtful, lasting manner is well under way.

“The Renaissance Plan is the most ambitious long-term building-maintenance plan in USD’s history,” explains Snyder. “It’s coupled with strategic new construction and is divided into three strategic approaches: annual deferred maintenance, the restoration of what we call the legacy portfolio — Camino, Founders and Olin Halls as well as Copley Library — and strategic new construction.”

That new construction will be the first of these efforts. A new Learning Commons will be built behind Copley Library; it will offer classrooms and flexible study space. Concurrently, the library will undergo renovation to become a space befitting the 21st century. Once these efforts are complete, the plan is to move on to Camino and Founders.

“These are original buildings on our campus, and they have many of the original systems that are beginning to fail,” Snyder says. Following their restoration, a new Business School building will be built in what is currently the Olin parking lot.

The launch of final planning and construction of the new USD School of Business Complex (pictured, above) was made possible by the generous $20 million leadership gift from USD Board Chair Donald R. Knauss and his wife, Ellie, last November.

While the Learning Commons and Business School are directly related to the Renaissance Plan, other new construction will be conducted at the same time. Engineering space is being expanded in the Loma Annex, where renovation will create new classrooms and office space. Additionally, fundraising for a new campus Ministry Center building adjacent to Casa Maria behind Founders Hall is in the final stages. This building will create new office and activity space for Mission and Ministry.

Approved by the Board of Trustees in Spring 2017, the timeline for the Renaissance Plan spans 10 years.

Of note is that the Renaissance Plan is funded through multiple sources, including capital budgets and fundraising. It does not rely upon any tuition increases and will employ a “save-and-spend” approach to ensure that no project moves forward without funding already in place.

“Our approach for this is to involve our campus community,” says Snyder. “Each one of these projects has a stakeholder group that will have representation.

“We’re very blessed to have been ranked by the Princeton Review as the most beautiful campus in the country. But we also know that behind walls and ceilings, we have things we can improve upon. As we celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2024, we will have set up the university for its next 75 years.” — Julene Snyder

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