University receives $75.4 million in state funding to be used for improvement and renovation

This funding will go toward different projects around all five system campuses.

Abbey Machtig

The University of Minnesota received $75.4 million in funding from the state as part of the University’s annual capital request, which will go toward campus renovations.

This funding was made available after the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bonding bill last week. These funds will go towards improving and renovating different buildings around campus and developing new projects for the future.

Although the University is in an uncertain financial position, it is important to continue putting money into keeping facilities and buildings updated, said University President Joan Gabel in an interview with the Minnesota Daily.

“There are probably some [savings measures] we would have done that we won’t do for longer investments,” Gabel said. “Some of our technology upgrades, equipment replacement, things that are sort of operational, that you can put off for a little while, but you don’t want to put off for too long because they actually get more expensive later.”

The University originally requested over $317 million from the state for the fiscal year 2020. This bonding bill failed to pass several special sessions prior to being passed last week.

The amount of funding the University receives from the annual capital request is then used to inform the University’s administration on what additional projects they can write into the capital budget. A proposed budget amendment will come before the Board of Regents in December.

“The annual capital budget authorizes us to spend money on the capital side, and making sure we take care of the physical environment of our multiple campuses,” Vice President for University Services Mike Berthelsen said.

This differs from the operating budget, which works to pay University employees, run utilities and make other purchases.

State funding for the University is not always provided annually. Since 2013, the University has received no contribution from the state government three times, according to University spokesperson Devin Henry.

“It’s not uncommon that some projects are ultimately delayed if they’re not funded … So we’ll have to have a conversation with the president and the president will make a recommendation to the board about how to adjust our next state capital request,” Berthelsen said.

Additionally, the University has never received the full amount requested, which has ranged from $77 million to $317 million since 2013. The University prepares for this possibility, Berthelsen said.

The projects discussed in the capital request and budget are determined by the president’s Six Year Capital Plan, which is updated annually. The plan reflects the University’s top priorities for improving and maintaining the campuses. Funding received by the state then determines which projects the University will advance for the upcoming year.

One project that will utilize this funding includes renovations to the Institute of Child Development, which currently consists of two separate buildings on the Twin Cities campus.

“It’s one of the University’s top ranked academic programs. So the project is going to take down the newer edition, which wasn’t as well built, renovate the original building and add on an addition,” Berthelsen said. “It’s going to give the kind of space that allows that top ranked program to do the kind of research that they are capable of doing.”