St. Paul Student Center could see facelift in 2020

The renovations could take place if funding for the project is secured.

David Clarey

Students who frequent the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus could enjoy a new student center as early as 2020.

The more than 55-year-old St. Paul Student Center has fallen into disrepair over the years. The Minnesota Student Association has pushed for a face-lift the last three years, but an agreement hasn’t been made on what to do with the space and where funding would come from.

“Basically every time we talk to St. Paul students … their number one concern is the St. Paul Student Center,” he said.

Ideas range from updating the existing space to a complete building renovation with different focuses, according to a report by business consultant Brailsford and Dunlavey last year.

The University hired the group to do an analysis of what students thought the center was missing. They released a report in June 2015 that found the top requests were for a Boynton Health clinic — although there is one across the street — and a One Stop office added to the center. The report also noted unpopular current food court options.

Some rooms in the St. Paul Student Center have heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues and water leaks, said Maggie Towle, associate vice provost of student affairs and director of Student Unions and Activities.

“Students are looking for something more like we have on the Minneapolis campus with Coffman [Memorial Union],” she said.

Towle said the Student Unions and Activities Office has considered rennovations for more than five years. It also has talked with students, faculty and the St. Paul campus’s colleges, like the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The MSA has wanted the administration to take action on rennovations for three years, said CFANS Student Senator and plant science junior Shantal Pai.

In a September MSA meeting, University President Eric Kaler said a committee would potentially be convened in the spring, said MSA Communications Director Austen Macalus.

“While it is premature to discuss a timeline or specifics of next steps, University leaders will continue to engage students, faculty and staff so that the process for determining the future of the campus is a collaborative one,” said University spokesman Evan Lapiska in an emailed statement.

MSA wants the student center to be on par with Coffman Memorial Union, Macalus said.

Towle said renovations need to be a part of the University’s Capital Planning six-year plan before a timeline could be set for renovation. While specific costs haven’t been determined, funding for this type of renovation comes primarily from student services fees, she said.

“Say we got the approval next year … ideally we would like to start construction, if all went well, by 2020 or 2021,” she said.