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$100 million in HEAPR funding tops University of Minnesota capital request priorities

March 3, 2014

As part of the University of Minnesota’s 2014 capital request of the Legislature, U officials today emphasized the urgency for $100 million in critical Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) projects, to maximize and extend the life of facilities that serve students, faculty and staff system-wide.

"I appreciate the Governor’s strong support in his bill, and I’ve heard strong support for the University from legislators, including leaders, who I’ve met with in the past eight weeks," said U President Eric Kaler. "They have a great number of bonding requests to consider this year and face difficult decisions. But the future of our state is tied to a vibrant and healthy land-grant university, which fuels our workforce and economy."

Kaler and Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock formally outline the six projects that constitute the U’s $232.7 million capital request when they testify before the House today and Senate on Tuesday:

  • $100 million for HEAPR, to renew and help bring buildings up to code for health, safety and accessibility purposes;
  • $56.7 million for renovations to 87-year-old Tate Laboratory, to meet the modern teaching needs of physical sciences disciplines;
  • $30 million for a new microbial sciences research building on the St. Paul campus, to house interdisciplinary research to speed discoveries in plant pathology, food safety and animal infectious diseases, key areas for growing Minnesota business and industry;
  • $10 million for the Crookston campus wellness center, to better serve a growing residential student population;
  • $12 million for the research laboratory improvement fund, which includes the St. Paul campus aquatic invasive species and bee laboratories; and 
  • $24 million for a new chemical sciences and advanced materials building on the Duluth campus, to provide research space to advance Minnesota’s mining industry while safeguarding the environment, as well as help meet the state’s growing need for chemists and biochemists.

"All of the projects on our list are mission critical," Kaler said. "Our world-class researchers cannot address the state and nation’s most pressing challenges with obsolete buildings. The U is uniquely positioned to achieve strong results for Minnesota, its economy and citizens’ quality of life, but we need adequate laboratory and classroom facilities to compete."

Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding proposal provides $118.7 million of the University’s request, including $40 million for HEAPR and full funding for three projects: Tate Laboratory; the Crookston campus wellness center; and  the research laboratory improvement fund. The governor did not include funding for the microbial sciences research building in St. Paul, nor the chemical sciences and advanced materials building on the Duluth campus.

Most of the projects in the University’s 2014 capital request will advance the high-demand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. A performance metric in the 2013 state omnibus higher education bill mandated that the U increase the number of students graduating with STEM degrees to help meet Minnesota’s growing need for a highly skilled workforce.

The University of Minnesota system, with campuses in the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester, accounts for 29 million square feet of infrastructure. One in four buildings system-wide are 70 years old or older, while 30 percent of the buildings on the Twin Cities campus fall into that category. Crucial HEAPR dollars would protect previous state investments and help bring buildings up to code for health, safety and accessibility standards.

The University itself has committed $66.3 million in investments to the $299 million in total projects.

For more information about the University’s 2014 capital request, which includes facilities improvement projects on all five campuses, visit z.umn.edu/6stepsforward.

Twin Cities Campus: