[Update x 2] LA Times: UCLA Is "Using Some Student Money For Pauley Pavilion" Renovation

Design Image: Campaign Of Champions

See the updates after the fold. This now appears to be a total hit job by the LA Times on UCLA administration.

Well this interesting. In January we read via the LA Times that fundraising for Pauley was going pretty well. Right before the home game against Arizona State UCLA reportedly had picked up "two unexpected donations of $100,000" for the renovation project and the "uptick" at the time had "pushed fundraising for the project to almost $62 million." So needless to say I was little more than surprised to read this in the LA Times this past weekend:

At UCLA, student fees are being used to save a plan to renovate Pauley Pavilion, home of the school's legendary basketball team.

In 2006, administrators launched a campaign to raise $100 million from private contributors to pay for the $185-million upgrade, which includes cushier seats, a high-definition scoreboard and expanded locker rooms. But when the fundraising effort fell victim to the recession, administrators changed the finance plan to include $25 million from student fees.

"Students really weren't involved in the process, beyond maybe some rubber-stamp committee," said UCSB UCLA Student Regent Jesse Bernal. "I don't think they know enough about it."

Most of the student money, $15 million, will come from fees approved by a student referendum in 2000 to maintain two older campus buildings that house gyms and student centers. The remaining $10 million had been set aside for seismic repair of student facilities.

The article than goes on to provide comments from Richard Bergman who has been serving the role of a quote machine for detractors of Pauley renovation project. As we detailed previously Bergman has had a bone to pick with Morgan Center for a while because the UCLA officials apparently moved on beyond him as he reportedly tried to impose his own "solutions" re. the renovation project. He was doing his own individual outreach to other donors and then per the LA Times enlisted the help of his gym buddy to get second opinions. So Bergman is not exactly the most neutral observe in this story.

Anyway, the article also provides the rationale from UCLA's COO and students who led the fundraising effort back in 2000:

Steve Olsen, UCLA's chief operating officer, acknowledged that the referendum approving the fee included nothing about Pauley Pavilion. But "it was always clearly understood that as the revenues grew, additional projects could be appropriately funded by those fees," he said.

Cindy Mosqueda, who was a UCLA sophomore in 2000 and a leader of the campaign for the fee, said there was no such understanding.

"We . . . thought we needed additional space and the asbestos out of the basement," said Mosqueda, now a PhD. candidate. "If we knew it would be used in the future for Pauley Pavilion, we wouldn't have worked so hard."

I personally am reluctant to jump on this LA Times story considering just months ago the paper itself reported the fund raising effort was going well. So it would have been helpful if the reporters made a sincere effort to reconcile their own story lines on this topic from last few months.

Even if the report is true I am somewhat ambivalent about the substantive issue raised around it. I imagine lot of people will have strong feelings either for or against it. These are very interesting times in California and around the country. So, I understand UCLA administrators looking to improvise as long as they are operating within the allowed parameters in a reasonable manner. I also think a story like this reinforces the notion how UCLA needs to think creatively about raising resources not just through traditional fundraising tactics but also think about using a comprehensive online strategy to take advantage of the tools available in today's world of Web 2.0 and beyond.

Still, I think it would be helpful for UCLA to provide a little more information on what is exactly going on via its Campaign of Champions site. Folks have expressed reasonable concerns and substantive issues concerning this project. It is impossible to make everyone happy. However, if there is a little more transparency explaining exactly what has been going on with the fund-raising efforts with periodic and regular updates, it would be beneficial for all parties involved.

GO BRUINS.

UPDATE (N): Looks like there is a major error in this story. The LAT reporter got a quote from a purported "UCLA student regent Jesse Bernal. Thanks to our commenters who pointed out that Jesse is not a UCLA student. He goes to UCSB. Don't really care for students from other schools commenting on matters connected to UCLA. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE II (N): Okay. This article is starting to look like a hit job by the LA Times. As pointed out by a reader this afternoon this wasn't news and in fact has been part of the plan all along by UCLA. This was from last July (emphasis added):

As part of the $185 million package, the regents also approved $60 million in external financing, with the debt to be paid by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. No campus revenues will support the debt service, Olsen emphasized. The remainder of the funding will come from $15 million in Student Programs, Activities and Resources Center fees and $10 million in Student Seismic fees.

So the LA Times basically dressed up old news with quotes from a noted malcontent donor and some student who didn't even go to UCLA to attack UCLA. Guess none of us should be surprised at this point. GO BRUINS.

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