Leroy M. Morishita
Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita offered advice on university maintenance matters to academic leaders throughout the nation in the summer issue of American Council on Education magazine.
Deferred maintenance can turn into a vicious cycle: In a declining or stagnant economy, deep budget cuts and tough choices can push maintenance problems off the short list of necessities that get funded. Left unaddressed, such problems can snowball into major issues that scare off prospective students and potential donors, squeezing budgets even tighter.
“There are practical strategies that can pull a whole campus together to help address deferred maintenance,” said Morishita. “We really look closely at life-safety issues, health- and safety-code issues, and things that need to be structurally corrected. We put together a list, which obviously can’t be completely taken care of in one year, and prioritize according to the most critical needs and what we have to do. “
His best advice is not list making but, rather, open communication. “I’ve found that the more you communicate with people and the more you give the rationale and reasons behind the decisions you’ve made, the more people are able to garner some understanding and hopefully, acceptance. It is a difficult thing when they’re looking at a building and saying, “Hey, I’ve got the major problems here, and you’re not dealing with them.” Communicating, as best you can, all that you’re trying to do—how you set priorities, and on what basis—goes a long way toward lending credibility.”