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John Harvard's Journal

Capital Costs

March-April 2006

The dimensions of Harvard’s current building boom—readily obvious to sidewalk superintendents along Memorial Drive at Western Avenue (graduate-student housing), across from Mather House (ditto), behind the Science Center (physical sciences and engineering laboratories), north of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (life-sciences laboratories), and elsewhere—are quantified in the Financial Report to the Board of Overseers of Harvard College for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. The exhibit on annual facility expenditures, adapted here, shows capital spending for new construction, building renovations, and acquisitions of structures and land—the latter principally in Allston. The sharp rise since 2000 is made more graphic when five-year averages are calculated: that figure rises from $78.8 million in the first period, 1986-1990, to $494.5 million from 2001-2005. Even adjusting for inflation, the recent expenditures have been at a rate two to three times higher than in any previous year. As a direct result, University debt outstanding has grown from $1.6 billion in 2001 to $2.8 billion last June. For a discussion of the financial implications of this extensive building program for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which is particularly affected, see "Fraught Finances."

Chart by Stephen Anderson