The University of Washington’s Computer Science & Engineering Department is pressing ahead with plans for a second building on campus, despite a setback in the budget passed by the Washington state Legislature this week.
The UW had requested $40 million from the state, with the remainder of the $110 million project to be paid for through private fundraising, including an initial $10 million commitment from Microsoft. Ultimately, however, the budget provided a total of $32.5 million in funding, and $15 million of that was designated to come from a UW Building Fund that was intended for maintenance, not capital projects.
“I’m hopeful that the Legislature will reconsider during the supplemental session that begins next January,” said UW computer science professor Ed Lazowska in an email today. “The key thing is that the UW Building Fund is intended for essential maintenance, not for capital projects. If UW is forced to spend that money on our project, we are going to have to fundraise to make the fund whole, which adds $15M to the already daunting $70M that we need to raise ($110M cost minus the $40M we had requested from the Legislature).”
He added, however, that it “will not slow the project down. The architect is on board, and we are on the verge of selecting a general contractor (submissions from four finalists are being evaluated now, as the final stage of a 3-stage selection process). We are actively working on site identification and preliminary design. We have the funding to keep things moving.”
The budget did include some good news for the tech industry, including an expansion of AP computer science courses and support for new K–12 education standards for computer science courses, in addition to providing scholarship funds for teachers to be trained in computer science education. Biotech did not fare as well, and the new budget also phases out the Life Sciences Discovery Fund.