The Minnesota Legislature's bonding bill, passed Thursday, includes $4.4 million for the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The money is earmarked for renovations of UMD's A.B. Anderson Hall, which houses classrooms as well as a few liberal arts departments. The $4.4 million covers two-third of the project's costs.
UMD will foot the other $2.2 million through donations and the facilities management budget.
The renovations include modernizing 36,000 square feet of teaching space for communication, philosophy, history and art students and faculty as well as modernizing mechanical and safety systems.
"There is very poor air circulation in that building right now. They don't have sprinklers," UMD spokesperson Lynne Williams said.
Due to poor air circulation and the amount of sun the building gets, Williams said instructors have had to cancel classes in the building because it gets too hot. The university has included A.B. Anderson Hall renovations on its capital request list since 2018.
John Rashid, UMD's facilities management director, anticipates construction will begin in the summer or fall 2021 and completed by fall 2022.
UMD will also receive almost 9%, or more than $3 million, of the $38.5 million the University of Minnesota system received in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding. The percentage each campus receives is based on a formula based on square footage and building conditions.
"We've got a list of projects and we were waiting to sort of see what that number came in at and then go back and decide what we'll be doing with that," Williams said.
A couple possibilities of high priority include continuing work on the university's old Chemistry Building and projects at the Natural Resources Research Institute.
Williams thanked local leadership, including state Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, who's the chair of the Minnesota House of Representatives bonding committee, for their working in pushing the bill through.
"I give (Murphy) a lot of kudos because she was able to find a bill that got overwhelming support," she said.
In his budget proposal outlined in January, Gov. Tim Walz proposed more than $900,000 for Lake Superior College. While the bonding bill includes more than $90 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, none of that money is going to toward the manufacturing workforce lab at LSC.
The money would have been used for a new integrated manufacturing work force lab that would have allowed LSC to move its manufacturing program up to its main campus from its downtown campus, which LSC says is near capacity and requires more than $2 million in maintenance.
The move would also allow the school to give up its lease on the downtown space and save the school at least $165,000 a year on operating costs.
"We are grateful for the bipartisan support LSC’s proposal had as legislators understand the importance of supporting higher education, our manufacturing sector and our local work force," said Daniel Fanning, LSC's vice president of institutional advancement and external relations. "We didn’t make the cut this year, but will be back to make our case again next year as this is a really important project for our school, community, region and state."
After five special legislative sessions, the bonding bill provides $1.9 billion to pay for infrastructure projects across the state, including $13.5 million seawall improvements in Duluth.
Between the U of M and Minnesota State systems, $166 million of the bonding money was set aside for higher education.