Regents approve UMD building request
The building boom at the University of Minnesota Duluth could continue. On Friday, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved a request for $238.9 million in state borrowing for 2008. Included in the list is a request for two-thirds of...
The building boom at the University of Minnesota Duluth could continue.
On Friday, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved a request for $238.9 million in state borrowing for 2008. Included in the list is a request for two-thirds of the funding for a $15 million civil engineering building.
The two-story, 34,000-square-foot building will connect with Voss Kovach Hall, housing laboratories, classrooms and offices for UMD's new bachelor's degree in civil engineering program. The university plans to admit freshmen to the program next fall.
"We won't be admitting upper classmen until the building is ready, which is anticipated to be two years later," said Stanley Burns, associate dean of UMD's College of Science and Engineering.
At full admission, the program will have around 200 students. UMD has about 750 students enrolled in its existing engineering degree programs, which include chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering.
"We now have four engineering programs," Burns said. "It makes sense that civil engineering should be next."
The civil engineering program will have four focus areas: geotechnical and mining, transportation research, water resources and structures.
"The laboratories will have to support them all," Burns said. "In order to accommodate the specialized laboratories in civil engineering, you need space, and it has to be specialized."
The laboratories will allow students to work with large wood, concrete and steel structures, as well as gain experience with hydraulic and other distributed pipe systems.
UMD alumnus and benefactor James Swenson has pledged $3 million for the building. Such support is often vital in helping convince lawmakers that a project deserves state support. The Swenson family also contributed $7.5 million in 1999 for the construction of the $33 million James I. Swenson Science Building. The gift helped convince lawmakers to approve $25.5 million in bonding for the project in 2002.
The regents' $238.9 million request includes $100 million to address safety and maintenance issues for the system's more than 800 buildings and 28 million square feet of building space.
The remaining $138.9 million will go for several renovation or construction projects, including the renovation of a gateway center on the Morris campus and many projects in the Twin Cities, including a new science teaching and student services building, a new facility for the Bell Museum of Natural History and a renovation of historic Folwell Hall.
The regents would match state funding for those projects with $69.4 million in university money, resulting in a total investment of $308.3 million.
"When the University of Minnesota seeks state investment in our capital infrastructure, it's important to note that it's a partnership," university President Robert Bruininks said in a news release. "We pay, through private fundraising and other sources, one-third of the cost of these projects. It's a good deal for taxpayers, giving them more proverbial bang for their buck in these investments."
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office did not immediately return a call seeking a comment about the regents' request.
If funded, the civil engineering building would continue a nine-year run of UMD construction and renovation projects with a total value of much more than $100 million. New buildings constructed during that time include the UMD Library, Weber Music Hall, the James I. Swenson Science Building, the Robert W. Bridges Fleet/Maintenance Facility and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics building, which is still under construction.