Despite a considerable shortage of raised funds for the new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center, College officials said they expect the center to open its doors next fall.
According to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley, as of September 30, the College still needs to raise more than $3.6 million for the $15.5 million project. Approximately $5.6 million has already been either given or pledged to fund the building. Most of the remaining difference between the project cost and raised funds?a little more than $6 million?will be paid for through debt financing.
Senior Vice President for Planning and Development Bill Torrey said that regardless of the state of the economy, construction of the center will continue as planned.
"If we don't raise what we want to, which is about $10 million, we have borrowing capacity, and we also have unrestricted funds that have already been donated, that we could apply to the project," he said.
"However," Torrey added, "we would prefer to raise the money and that is one of the things we are working on right now."
Though the fitness center was originally budgeted at $14.75 million and slated to open in August 2009, there was one surprise that altered planning on the project.
"We found asbestos," said Longley. "We had a seven-week delay because we discovered asbestos [and] had to have it removed from the site."
Because of the delay, Longley said, "[the center] will probably open now in late September, early October."
Though the new fitness center will have some new equipment, other pieces will be moved from the Watson Fitness Center.
"Right now we have about a third of the new equipment [for the fitness center] and we're hoping we can increase the amount of new equipment," Longley said. "All the pieces from Watson are coming over, but if more money is raised then we will be able to replace them sooner."
According to Torrey, annual giving has grown significantly over the last five years, increasing anywhere from 5 to 7 percent each year.
"Fifty-seven percent of our alumni give annually," he said. "That puts us with the top schools in the country."
However, with what appears to be a painful recession on the horizon, Torrey said he was sure that the College would no longer be posting such glowing numbers. "Are people hurting? Yes," he said. "Are we going to be impacted? Sure. Do we know how yet? No."
"I can tell you that we are not going to be ahead of our [annual fundraising] goals," he said. "We are a little bit behind right now, maybe one percent at the moment. We are certainly not going to be able to grow the fund."
Torrey did indicate, however, that he was pleased with the success of The Bowdoin Campaign. This fundraising effort, launched nearly five years ago, aims to raise $250 million for the College. More than $238 million has already been raised, with the campaign set to end on June 30, 2009.
"That is a tremendous amount of money," he said. "It was been a tremendously successful campaign. The economy has been good, people have been generous, they have been loyal."
With lean times ahead, Torrey said that the school would be putting a whole range of projects on hold. He remained certain, however, that the school would weather any financial difficulties.
"We have great people on the ground here, very generous trustees, and a very smart president, who understands finance," he said. "I think that our position is as strong as it could possibly be."
-Nick Day contributed to this report.