Building a stronger CLA

Folwell Hall gets some appropriations attention, finally.

At the Sept. 11 meeting, the Board of Regents discussed its plan to request $242 million in state funding from the Legislature, including $36.5 million for interior renovations to Folwell Hall and $80 million for a new physics and nanotechnology building. This includes the UniversityâÄôs one-third financial obligation. If the Board of Regents approves the proposal, this will be the second time in five years that the University will seek funds to renovate Folwell. In 2008, the renovation took a backseat to other projects including the Bell Museum of Natural History, which Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed in both 2008 and 2009. This year, however, the Follwell Hall renovations are the No. 1 funding priority behind the multi-target Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funding. Speaking for the more than 14,000 College of Liberal Arts undergrads on campus: ItâÄôs about time. The last CLA projects to receive money from the Legislature were the Regis Center for Art in 2000 and Jones and Nicholson Hall Renovations in 2002. Nine years, a $26 million Kolthoff Hall renovation (largely for chemistry labs), a $40 million Carlson expansion, a $60 million investment in a biosciences building and infrastructure and a $70 million Science Teaching and Student Services building later, CLA finally gets to see an explicit building request go to the legislature. In the case of Folwell Hall, CLA communications manager Kelly OâÄôBrien said, âÄúnearly every student in CLA and many other collegesâÄù will benefit from its renovation. The Legislature must take Folwell and future CLA requests seriously. In the future, administration must continue to prioritize the infrastructure needs of the plurality 14,000 CLA undergrads before asking the Legislature for any more pet science projects.