Necessary renovation

The state Legislature should approve the funds for a Tate Laboratory of Physics renovation.

The Minnesota Daily reported last Wednesday that funds for a Tate Laboratory of Physics renovation are included in the University’s 2014 Capital Request, which asks for $233 million from the Legislature for renovations and other building projects on the Twin Cities, Duluth and Crookston campuses.

Renovations to the 86-year-old physics building were also included in last year’s request, but the $6 million needed to begin planning a building overhaul was left unfunded by the Legislature. The current request asks for a heftier $56.7 million for Tate, more than half of the renovation’s estimated $85 million price tag.

Physics and astronomy department head Ron Poling was quoted and told the Daily the building hasn’t been renovated since the 1990s. The building has accessibility issues and a leaky roof, which continues to cause water damage from time to time, he said.

The Tate Laboratory of Physics needs renovation more than any other building on Northrop Mall. While Smith, Ford and Kolthoff Hall all have modern interiors and white boards in the main lecture halls, physics professors in Tate still use chalkboards in the large introductory physics lectures that nearly all CSE and many CBS students are required to take for their degrees.

The Northrop and University Recreation and Wellness Center renovations have bolstered the University’s commitment to health and culture, and while the new Physics and Nanotechnology Building increases space for many of Tate’s research labs, students are now in need of an updated educational facility. If a badly needed renovation is denied again, it’s possible students will be receiving subpar course instruction in Tate.