Lawmakers discussed Bill 197 on Thursday, a measure that would provide $5 million to the University of Guam for two new construction projects.
UOG has already secured a $21.7 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to pay for a new building for the engineering school and a new student services center.
But according to Sen. Joe San Agustin, sponsor of the bill, the university “will assume the increased construction due to increased prices and materials, labor and other construction costs. “.
UOG is also fighting a five-year deadline to use the loans, which were issued in 2020 but construction projects cannot proceed until local funding is secured, San Agustin said.
“The University of Guam has been trying to get the student services center and other engineering school buildings built for about a decade,” he said.
The current student center is outdated and services cannot be provided due to lack of space, while engineering students have complained of not having proper teaching resources, he added.
UOG’s board of trustees approved a full engineering school in 2016 and a full bachelor of science degree program in civil engineering three years later, but the new school is still without a building.
“We graduated the first 12 engineers in December, and we have more next month, and we have a few hundred students in the program. So we’re moving forward,” UOG President Thomas Krise told lawmakers.
Currently, the school is seeking accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Engineering and Technology, “and the facility is really important to achieving that,” Krise said.
The Student Services Center has a locked-in contractor, and the Engineering Building has a final bid due May 20.
“It’s the final stage, so once we’ve started we can lock down the project and then we can move on,” Krise said.
Bill 197 would take $5 million from the general fund, which is on track to collect a $68 million surplus in revenue this fiscal year.