Why are we charging for certain rooms and where will the money go?

An Open Letter from Paul Wright, the Director of CITRIS

Dear Colleagues,

I apologize in advance that there is an inevitable trend in which there will be a charge for meeting rooms on campus. (The College of Engineering is also about to charge for HMMB290, the Hearst Lobby, Sibley, etc). Hopefully, the notes below help to explain the situation:

1. First, not all the rooms in Sutardja Dai Hall have a room charge. For building occupants there are no charges for the many shared spaces for informal interactions especially on the west ends of the building where the “view to the Bay” is deliberately open to everyone. For CITRIS PIs, the smaller classrooms 240 and 254 can be reserved without charge.

2. Second, the money that is being collected partially reimburse us for administrative time to book the rooms, as well as pay for cleaning services and minor repairs to equipment and furniture. A Renovation Fund will be needed 3 to 5 years from now when the rooms begin to deteriorate from normal use. In summary, the fees collected will be used to keep this building as close to its original state as possible.

3. Third, an appropriate question is “Why doesn’t the overhead from my NSF grants cover this?” The fact is the overhead goes to UCOP and about half of it is returned to the central campus to pay for utilities and major repairs. But with the recent cuts in State money there are many calls on the overhead returned to the campus. Custodial and maintenance services are being trimmed year-after-year, so if we want to maintain the meeting rooms in a truly beautiful way, we need funds to accomplish this and we will be better off by acting as a local community.

4. Another question might be “Are there no operational funds for renovations?” Again the budget cuts are large and in addition, we now have to start paying a mortgage on the building. The overrun was $29M and the mortgage payments will be shared 1/3 each by CITRIS, COE and the campus. The overrun is very strongly linked to our community decision back in 2002/3 that the new Micro/Nanolab would remain on campus as a key educational resource, and be a part of Sutardja Dai Hall/CITRIS rather than moving out to Richmond. The net result is that CITRIS operational monies are modest and can’t support future building upgrades or maintenance.

Thanks for understanding. Paul Wright, Summer 2009