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University of Minnesota Board of Regents approve 2014 Capital Investment Request

$290 million total request invests in bricks and mortar to bolster educational and research excellence

October 11, 2013

Committing to student success, critical research and the state’s economy by enhancing the system’s physical infrastructure, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents today approved the U’s 2014 Capital Investment Request to the state legislature.

The University’s request for $232.7 million in state bonding promises an additional $66.3 million of institutional funds for six projects. The proposal aligns with the U's strategic goals to attract and retain the best and brightest students and world-class faculty and staff; to inspire innovation, exploration and discovery; and to be a responsible steward of its physical and financial resources. Numerous project requests are connected to serving the science fields, which will help the University comply with one of the performance metrics within the 2013 omnibus higher education bill that requests the U graduate more students with STEM degrees.

"This is not just an investment in bricks and mortar, it’s an investment in students and the future prosperity of our state," said University President Eric Kaler. "We cannot train the workforce of tomorrow in outdated classrooms and laboratories, nor can we expect researchers to solve pressing statewide problems with facilities that have not been state of the art for decades. I look forward to continuing to partner with legislators to support the University and advance our state’s economy and brainpower."

Capital investment funds will:

  • Bring new energy and purpose to aging campus buildings (HEAPR) – by utilizing system-wide Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds to maximize and extend the life of facilities (request: state funds entirety of $100 million cost);

  • Renew an old research building as the heart of science teaching (Tate Science and Teaching Renovation) – by renovating obsolete labs and classrooms in the 87-year-old Tate Laboratory to meet modern day requirements of core science and technology disciplines, Physics and Earth Sciences (request: state funds $56.7 million of $85 million total cost);

  • Create collaborative space for scientists who secure our food and health (Microbial Sciences Research Building) – by constructing a new laboratory building for interdisciplinary research in microbiology-focused fields such as plant pathology, food safety and animal infectious diseases, a project that will also allow the University to decommission one or possibly two existing obsolete facilities(request: state funds $30 million of $45 million total cost);

  • Foster healthy lives for students and the greater community (Crookston Wellness Center) – by providing modern wellness facilities and programs at the Crookston campus that support academic programs and better serve students (request: state funds $10 million of $15 million total cost);

  • Protect our lakes, trees and bees (Laboratory Improvement Fund) – by improving existing research facilities, including the University’s bee laboratory, plant greenhouses and aquatic invasive species laboratory (request: state funds $12 million of $18 million total cost);

  • Supply the growing demand for workers in the chemical sciences (Duluth Chemistry and Material Sciences) – by expanding the Duluth campus’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs with a new teaching and research facility (request: state funds $24 million of $36 million total cost).

"This plan illustrates the University’s commitment to thoughtfully and purposefully maximize its own resources and state support to fulfill its land grant mission," said Board Chair Richard Beeson. "It identifies those buildings that can be renovated to meet necessary standards. Where new construction is imperative, this request maximizes interdisciplinary space and allows for existing facilities to come off-line."

Charting the future
Regents took the first steps toward charting a new and ambitious future roadmap for the University by reviewing internal and external trends related to five key metrics impacting the future of the Twin Cities campus. The Board also discussed the changing landscape of higher education, along with opportunities and unique assets that enhance University excellence and distinguish the U from other institutions.

The visioning undertaken at today’s work session will shape and guide the work of the University’s Strategic Planning Workgroup. Chaired by University Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson, the Workgroup includes 29 faculty, staff and student members from across colleges and disciplines. The strategic planning process will articulate the vision, values, goals and strategies to increase the institution’s impact and reputation during the next decade and beyond.

Other Board activity included:

  • Philanthropy: The Board accepted a recent $10 million donation from the Bentson Foundation to provide scholarships for new students in the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. This gift will help educate an additional 500 advanced practice nurses during the next 10 years, which will help address an acute shortage of primary care providers, rising health care costs and the rapidly growing needs of an aging population. Coupled with the Bentson Family Scholarship established in 2003 and other generous gifts, the Bentson Foundation and family is now the single largest donor to scholarships at the University of Minnesota.

  • Capital Improvement Budget amendments: Regents approved two amendments to the FY14 capital improvement budget, originally approved in June. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum entry road and gatehouse improvement project will eliminate congestion at the facility’s entrance and the bottleneck caused by traffic at the gatehouse, while providing greater physical access to the Arboretum. Additionally, 6,100 square feet in Nils Hasselmo Hall will be renovated into new lab space for the U’s world-renowned Center for Drug Design. This project is primarily an upgrade of existing space to replace outdated research facilities in Weaver-Densford Hall and the VFW Cancer Research Center.

  • Facilities Utilization Assessment: The Facilities and Operations Committee examined forward-thinking space utilization strategies intended to maximize the U’s physical assets. Vice President for University Service Pam Wheelock discussed developing new space management data tools, which would help determine where and how existing spaces can be reconfigured via alternative workplace strategies. Additionally, the U is continuing its efforts to decommission obsolete buildings. To date, University Services has removed 14 buildings from the active inventory, resulting in approximately $1.1 million in annual operating costs savings and $33 million from the facility condition assessment 10-year needs total.

  • Administrative Cost Definition and Benchmarking Report: Consistent with President Kaler’s commitment to hold the line on administrative costs, the percent of leadership and oversight costs in fiscal year 2013 remained constant compared to FY2012 expenses.

  • Accountability Report: The Board formally approved the University’s 2013 University Plan, Performance and Accountability Report, which details how the U is fulfilling its land-grant mission and delivering value to Minnesota.

  • Goods and Services contracts: The Board approved a five-year café and catering food service contract to Taher, Inc. for the University Recreation and Wellness Center, along with a million, five-year café, concession and catering food service and alcohol sales contract to Surdyk’s, Inc. for Northrop. Both contracts were awarded via a Request for Proposal process and include two additional three-year renewal options.

Twin Cities Campus: