House Chair's bonding bill for U of M a 'strong boost' for Minnesota's economy

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MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/21/2014) —University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler today called House Capital Investment Chair Alice Hausman’s bonding proposal for the University a strong boost for the U of M and the state’s economy.

Her proposal devotes $224.2 million to the University and includes full funding for five priority projects.

"We appreciate Representative Hausman’s strong leadership and truly unprecedented level of commitment to the U," Kaler said. "Her proposal provides a strong boost for our students and Minnesota’s economy. We encourage others in the Legislature to share her vision for modern classrooms and research facilities and pass a bill that includes full funding for the University’s capital investment request."

Hausman’s bill provides $40 million of the $100 million University officials requested for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR), used to maximize and extend the life of facilities that serve students, faculty and staff across all five system campuses. Kaler noted that U leaders, faculty and students will continue to advocate for additional renovation funding in order to meet current needs.

The five other projects that constitute the U’s $232.7 million capital request, for which Hausman’s bill provides full funding, include:

  • $56.7 million for renovations to 87-year-old Tate Laboratory, to meet the modern teaching needs of physical sciences disciplines;
  • $30 million for a new microbial sciences research building on the St. Paul campus, to house interdisciplinary research to speed discoveries in plant pathology, food safety and animal infectious diseases, key areas for growing Minnesota business and industry;
  • $10 million for the Crookston campus wellness center, to better serve a growing residential student population;
  • $12 million for the research laboratory improvement fund, which includes the St. Paul campus aquatic invasive species and bee laboratories; and
  • $24 million for a new chemical sciences and advanced materials building on the Duluth campus, to provide research space to advance Minnesota’s mining industry while safeguarding the environment, as well as help meet the state’s growing need for chemists and biochemists.

System-wide, the University’s buildings account for 29 million square feet, and most are in good condition, according to Kaler. But one in four buildings, including 30 percent on the Twin Cities campus, are 70 years old or older.

"We must move the dial on funding to renew our existing facilities," Kaler said. "Our students need up-to-date and efficient learning and research spaces to be ready for the modern environments they’ll be expected to enter, and we must protect the state’s previous investments."

Also included in Hausman’s bill is $51.5 million for a new Bell Museum of Natural History. Established by the Legislature in 1872 as the state’s museum, funding for the Bell falls outside the University's request.

News Source : House Chair's bonding bill for U of M a 'strong boost' for Minnesota's economy

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