Bruininks appeals to Legislature for funds

Accompanied by students and faculty, Bruininks outlined the University’s requests at the state Capitol.

Raghav Mehta

Following Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs recommendation to cut the University of MinnesotaâÄôs $240 million request for state funds to $130 million, University President Bob Bruininks asked legislators Tuesday to grant the full request. Accompanied by students and faculty, Bruininks outlined the UniversityâÄôs requests at the state Capitol. He implored the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee to support funding of six University projects, four of which Pawlenty announced earlier this month he would not support. These included a $34.5 million renovation of Folwell Hall, a $10 million American Indian Learning Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a new $5.5 million Itasca Biological Station. Two-thirds of funding for the projects would be provided by the state, and the University would be responsible for covering the rest. Bruininks stressed the benefits of the funding, claiming it would spur job creation and help the state economy. âÄúThe Minnesota economy really needs a shot in the arm,âÄù Bruininks said. Physics professors joined Bruininks to testify about the construction of a new physics and nanotechnology building âÄî a project Pawlenty said he would support. Construction for the building would cost $80 million, with the University paying $26.7 million. While most physics classes currently take place in Tate Laboratory of Physics, the new facility would provide what professors described as âÄúmuch-needed spaceâÄù for experimental physics and nanotechnology. Professors have suggested that Tate lab is outdated for the kind of experiments required for their research. âÄú[The lab] really lacks state-of-the-art facilitiesâÄù said Ron Poling, head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. Poling said the University decided it would be more cost-effective to create a new building rather than repeatedly renovate the Tate lab. The nanotechnology department, which is currently scattered throughout campus, would receive about a quarter of the space. Committee chairman Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, Minn., offered students the opportunity to speak out. Students emphasized the need for the renovation of Folwell Hall, stating that the building was too hot most of the time, which creates a difficult learning environment. First-year political science major Thomas Trehus said that the proposal âÄúoutlines the goals weâÄôre trying to accomplish.âÄù Bruininks said the funding is imperative to keep the UniversityâÄôs educational mission on track. âÄúFunding technology buildings will help maintain the UniversityâÄôs status as a world leader in research and technological innovation,âÄù he said.