Many remember the 1980s movie “Brewster’s Millions.” Richard Pryor — to inherit a fortune — first has to spend $30 million in 30 days, with nothing to show for it at the end of the month.
Pryor should have consulted with Penn State board Chairman Ira Lubert.
On Friday, just two months into his reign as BOT chairman, Lubert oversaw expenditure of $144 million for the replacement of Fenske Laboratory.
Without question, Fenske Laboratory is in dire need of replacement (I was a chemical engineering grad in 1984 — and it was outdated then).
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But, $144 million?
The most recent nationwide data on college and university construction costs (a total of 242 projects nationwide) yields a median cost per square foot, weighted for projects of identical purposes as the Fenske project, of $363 per square foot.
The cost for the Penn State Fenske project? $758 per square foot.
For the 190,000-square-foot project, that means the Fenske project at Penn State should cost approximately $69 million.
Would $80 million ... even $90 million ... raise an eyebrow? Probably not.
But $144 million?
Where is the extra $70 million going? Why are we paying twice as much as the national average?
$70 million up in smoke? Funds that could be redirected to reduce tuition for every student on the University Park campus by $1,500.
Where is all that money going? And could this explain why folks like Ira Lubert and Mark Dambly cling so tightly to their unfettered, unopposed, unquestioned control over the university?
Barry Fenchak, State College