Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chancellor Says We Need Patience & Prudence on the Hotel Business Plan: No Plan Available for Now

Chancellor Block says the hotel/conference center business plan - which is the only way to determine the viability of the plan and whether it will end up costing the campus money - can't be made available now for reasons of prudence. See the letter below. So I guess we are expected to be patient until it is prudent.

Letter to the Editor, Daily Bruin, 11/9/11

The proposal to build a $152 million conference and guest center on campus is not one UCLA made in haste. In fact, it is supported by $50 million from alumni Meyer Luskin, a highly successful businessman, and his wife, Renee. The Luskins directed us to use their gift for a project they also believe will succeed and enhance our campus in new and important ways. We could not be more excited or grateful for their generosity and vision.

Although it would not be prudent for us to release our business plan before it is submitted to the regents, who will give it a thorough public review before voting on the project early next year, it was developed by top industry experts who did an exhaustive analysis. The fact is that Westwood hotels are largely populated by people having business with UCLA, as evidenced by the fact that the few rooms we currently offer on campus are typically booked solid.

The suggestion that this project takes funds away from our academic mission is incorrect. It does not touch tuition or state funds and is supported entirely by the donor-directed gift and bonds specifically for its construction. In fact, $10 million of the Luskin gift is designed to help academic departments host conferences that involve and benefit our students. Meanwhile, our fundraising efforts continue to demonstrate UCLA’s commitment to supporting students, with more than $104 million in private gifts raised through the Bruin Scholars Initiative, including $20 million in scholarships through the Dream Fund.

Keeping UCLA competitive among our peer institutions by attracting major conferences to campus goes to the very heart of our academic mission – extending our research and ideas into the community in a way that helps solve society’s problems. Great universities realize their commitment not just to their students but to the communities those students will someday shape.

Gene Block

Block has been the chancellor of UCLA since 2007.

Note: The hotel/conference center does not appear to be on the agenda of the Regents meeting next week. The Regents do not meet again until January.

Sounds like someone would like to get along without a critique from the Academic Senate or anyone else. As Patience and Prudence would say:

The powers-that-be might well take a look at the Daily Bruin editorial at
which concludes:

It is... commendable that the administration has listened to faculty input about the hotel and conference center and made changes to their plans.

When UCLA administrators release the business plan for the hotel and conference center, they would do well to continue to keep their ears open to skepticism and criticism.

The campus community needs to be confident that this project will help – not hurt – UCLA.

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