Upgrades hinge on Leg funds

If the U’s 2016 capital request is approved, it could fund a new health sciences facility.

Space Planner at the University of Minnesota Anika Carlsted leads a tour of the Pillsbury Hall attic, a space that will be renovated with money from the 2016 capital request.

Joe Sulik

Space Planner at the University of Minnesota Anika Carlsted leads a tour of the Pillsbury Hall attic, a space that will be renovated with money from the 2016 capital request.

Raj Chaduvula

University of Minnesota leaders are gearing up to fight for funding from the state to help improve school facilities system-wide.
Administrators from the Crookston, Duluth, Twin Cities and Morris campuses presented their plans for the 2016 capital request to a group of investors and other Minnesota leaders on Wednesday. They pushed for a variety of initiatives, including the upkeep of current facilities and the creation of new ones.
The 2016 capital request adds up to about $304 million, with the University investing nearly $68 million and requesting about $236 million from the state. 
Plans for the Twin Cities campus include the creation of a health science education facility, renovation of Pillsbury Hall and the Academic Health Center and a new greenhouse on the St. Paul campus. 
Health education improvements
The Academic Health Center and the new Health Science Education Facility are pooled together in a nearly $67 million dollar request from the state. 
Dr. Brooks Jackson, dean of the Medical School, said the funding would be allocated toward newer facilities and teaching methods. Medicinal education is changing, and the current facilities and buildings don’t support that, he said. 
The new facilities would have up-to-date simulation centers where students can practice what they learn, allowing nursing, surgical and other medical students from a variety of professions to work together, he said. 
“Simulations are how you teach students,” said Jackson. 
There are about 350 simulations per year, and University administrators say they hope to triple that with funding from the request. 
English dept. to move
College of Liberal Arts Dean John Coleman presented the plan to renovate Pillsbury Hall to host the English department and expand classroom and hallway space. 
“[We need] more interactive space for students and faculty,” Coleman said. 
Pillsbury Hall currently holds the Earth Sciences department, which would move to Tate Lab once it’s done being renovated, Coleman said. 
The English department move has been stalled for some time, said Brian Swanson, chief financial officer for University Services.
“It’s the right time to do it,” he said, because Tate is being renovated as well.
Pillsbury is a good location for the English Department because of the other humanities departments nearby, said Coleman. 
For the St. Paul campus, the capital request includes funding for a new greenhouse next to already renovated and modern greenhouses. 
The current Biological Sciences Greenhouse has safety and foundational issues, said College of Biological Sciences Dean Valery Forbes. 
Other campuses seek improvements
Lendley Black, chancellor for the Duluth campus, presented plans for a chemistry and advanced materials sciences building and renovations to Duluth’s Sports and Health Center, which currently has infrastructure problems due to poor ventilation. 
Jaqueline Johnson, chancellor of University of Minnesota-Morris, outlined renovations to humanities and library buildings. 
Johnson said Morris wants to redo a floor in Blakely Hall to include state-of-the-art K-12 teacher training facilities and faculty spaces. 
Fred Wood, chancellor at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, previewed plans to renovate Crookston’s sports center.
“It currently has no fire suppression system, and we want to provide a safe space for our athletes and spectators,” he said.