Budget request increased

Ahnalese Rushmann

Funding for a new science teaching and student services center and a proposed ambulatory care center are part of the University’s $308 million state capital request for the 2008 state legislative session, $22 million more than in the preliminary request approved by the Board of Regents in June.

The Board of Regents will look over the request at their mid-October meeting in Morris. Upon approval, the request would be passed on to the governor and ultimately, the state Legislature.

The University asked for $192.3 million from the state Legislature in last year’s session.

Projects covered in the request include the design and construction of a new science facility, which will cost $72.5 million, in addition to the interior renovation of Folwell Hall and the construction of a new Bell Museum of Natural History in St. Paul.

According to the University’s project summary, the facility will include science classrooms and counseling, registration and bursar services. The project also includes the demolition of the Science Classroom Building.

Orlyn Miller, director of planning and architecture at the Office of Capital Planning and Project Management, said if the legislature approves a bonding bill in May, the demolition and building process would begin in the following months.

“In the best case scenario, it would be about a year from now,” Miller said. “It could be early 2009.”

Lincoln Kallsen, director of financial research at the Office of Budget and Finance, said the new science facility would hold 19 classrooms with approximately 1,400 classroom seats. That’s nearly 300 more than what the current Science Classroom Building holds.

The One Stop Student Services office will also relocate to the new building from its current location in Fraser Hall, he said.

Vanessa Keskey, a first-year student who has a geology lecture in the building, said she couldn’t think of another campus project that needed the money more.

“Our teacher told us they were going to redo this in the ’70s,” she said. “They haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

The University also requested $20 million for a clinical sciences and learning center within the planned ambulatory care center in the southeast part of campus, near the Huron Boulevard exit.

The funds would support a clinical care and learning facility for future health professionals within the center, according to the project summary.

Sarah Youngerman, spokeswoman for the Academic Health Center, said the facility is needed to combine education, research and clinical care in one building.

“It’s time that the clinics are upgraded to meet the needs of the 21st century,” she said.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, vice president and chief financial officer for the University, said state policy requires the University to raise one-third of the funds for all of the projects, with the exception of the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement project, which the state would pay for.

The University requested $100 million for the system wide HEAPR project, which would go toward general facility upgrades. Another $13 million is requested for classroom improvements and laboratory renovations within the system.

Pfutzenreuter said the additional $22 million requested would ensure funding for the HEAPR project and laboratory renovations.

Competition for funding will be stiff, he said, as state legislators in both the House and Senate will consider similar requests from other government sectors and nonprofits in the state.

“It’s always a tough competition because they’ll have billions of dollars in requests,” Pfutzenreuter said. “But we’ll fight for every one of those projects.”