Yudof rallies U community around capital request

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

While most students were getting ready for their second day of spring semester Tuesday night, University alumni, staff and faculty rallied at the Gateway alumni center on their behalf in support of the University’s capital funding request.

In the upcoming session – scheduled to convene Jan. 29 – the state Legislature will pass a bonding bill, which holds many University building projects in limbo.

Gov. Jesse Ventura recommended an $85 million funding proposal that falls short of the University’s $239.4 million request.

More than 300 people gathered, amid maroon and gold decorations, with the University rouser playing softly in the background, to hear how University officials plan to sell lawmakers on 12 construction projects in the balance this year.

“Calls, letters and personal visits to the Legislature make all the difference in the world,” said University Alumni Association President Bruce Nelson.

Edward Beckmann, 1996 alumnus, became involved in the association after hearing of the tuition increases the University has seen in recent years.

“My University degree has been very important to me,” Beckmann said. “There is a lack of commitment from legislators to fund the University.”

Alumni similar to Beckmann hope to encourage others to get involved in the cause.

“We want to organize alumni Ö to make a connection at a personal level,” he said. “We want to get alumni to call legislators. The more active the better.”

Those directly affected by the funding amount are also finding the cause worthy of their involvement.

Mary McEvoy, chairwoman of the educational psychology department is working to inform the public about the importance of funding for the University’s Mineral Resources Research Center. The University asked for $18.4 million for the project but did not receive any money in Ventura’s bonding proposal.

The building, located on the Minneapolis East Bank, now stands empty, but if the renovation money comes through from the
government, the facility could provide a home for the educational psychology department.

“The University community needs to be educated about the critical need for this building,” McEvoy said. “We need to educate and inform the Legislature and the public of the good use of Minnesota money.”

Along with calling legislators, alumni and staff hope informing the public, as well as students, will help get the requested funding.

“Many students don’t care because they don’t think it affects them,” said Matthew Gauthier, a political science senior. “The upkeep of the buildings is what draws people here.”

Maggie Hessel-Mial covers the Legislature and welcomes comments at [email protected]