Regents hear building plans

President Bob Bruininks presented a six-year proposal that outlined projects.

Than Tibbetts

Construction could become quite common on campus over the next decade. The Board of Regents heard plans for new buildings and facilities at its meeting Thursday.

Regents looked over University President Bob Bruininks’ six-year capital plan, which outlines proposed projects that would be paid for largely by money from the state.

The board approved the 2006 capital bonding request, which asks the state for $206.1 million in support for several prominent projects, including an expansion of the Carlson School of Management, a new science teaching and student services building and a new medical biosciences building.

The University brings a request to the state every other year for projects to be included on the state’s bonding bill, in which the state assumes debt to pay for large projects. The president’s recommended six-year plan includes a new physics building in 2008 and a renovation of the Tate Laboratory of Physics in 2010 among other projects, though it remains to be seen which, if any, of the projects will receive the state’s approval.

According to the six-year plan, the University will also ask the state for $80 million in 2006, 2008 and 2010 to pay for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds, which are used to repair and maintain existing buildings and facilities across the entire University system.

The board also approved the purchase of two floors of a building in Rochester to house the partnership between the University and the Mayo Clinic. The state provided $21.7 million in this year’s higher education funding bill.

Frank Cerra, senior vice president for the Academic Health Center, said the University needs new facilities if administrators want it to become a top research institution.

“The growth in facilities is not proportional to funding growth,” he said.

A few regents expressed reservations that the University might set a precedent for allowing the state to finance private-sector projects by legislating partnerships with the University. Although the University will own the floors of the building, they will be leased to the Mayo Clinic long-term for $1.

“I don’t think the University should become a conduit very often,” Regent Frank Berman said.

Sue Weinberg, the University’s real estate director, said construction on the new space, in the Stabile Building on the Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, would be completed in 15 months.

Regents also reviewed a plan to renovate the training and equipment rooms at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex, which primarily serves the football team.

Liz Eull, the athletics department’s chief financial officer, said the nearly $1 million project would provide all-new equipment, including cardiovascular machines and hot and cold treatment whirlpools, also known as plunge pools.

Donated money to the athletics department will finance the project.

“This facility will get us on par with everyone else in the Big Ten,” she said.