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Public colleges, universities seeking nearly $1 billion in 2024 for capital improvements

Minnesota State Chancellor Scott Olson testifies before the House Capital Investment Committee Feb. 19, laying out the system's 2024 capital request. (Screenshot)
Minnesota State Chancellor Scott Olson testifies before the House Capital Investment Committee Feb. 19, laying out the system's 2024 capital request. (Screenshot)

Leaders of the state’s public colleges and universities are seeking nearly $1 billion in state funds to prepare their schools for future enrollment and programs, improve energy efficiency,  and make their campuses safer and more accessible. Most, if not all, the money would be used to repair existing buildings.

The University of Minnesota has clearly heard legislators’ message that it should take care of existing assets ahead of building new ones, said Alice Roberts-Davis, vice president of University Services.

The university’s entire $500 million capital investment request is for asset preservation, she told the House Capital Investment Committee Monday.   

Leaders of the Minnesota State system also described its $541.4 million capital investment budget proposal which includes $427.6 million in funding from general obligation bonds.

Minnesota State presents bonding request to MN House Capital Investment Committee 2/19/24

The requests are far greater than the $103 million capital investment proposed for each system in Gov. Tim Walz’s 2024 infrastructure plan.


Minnesota State system

The $541 million capital investment plan from Minnesota State includes $200 million in asset preservation. Those dollars would go to 28 campuses across the state to repair and replace roofs, heating and cooling systems, and building exteriors.

Minnesota State has new construction in its capital budget, some of which is already in the works. Among the biggest projects would be:

  • $86.3 million for phase II of construction at Armstrong Hall at Minnesota State University, Mankato;
  • $71.8 million for construction of the Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Engagement and Learning at Winona State University;
  • $34.4 million to build a transportation center to serve diesel mechanic and truck driving programs at Alexandria Technical and Community College; and
  • $31.8 million for renovations to Saint Paul College, consolidating student services into one area, improving facilities.


University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota presents bonding requests to MN House Capital Investment Committee 2/19/24

Circumstances are dire at the University of Minnesota, said Roberts-Davis, as it tries to keep up with aging infrastructure.

University officials are requesting $500 million for asset preservation at campuses across the state. The bulk of the funds – $417 million – would be for projects at the Twin Cites campus. Among the high priority projects would be renovating the Food Science and Nutrition building; replacing the enclosure and railings on the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge; and renovating Eddy Hall, the oldest building on campus. The university is seeking $52 million combined for these three projects.

Funding request on other campuses include:

  • $44.77 million in Duluth mostly for heating and cooling systems and code renewal at Heller Hall, the humanities building and the library annex.
  • $14.8 million for the Morris campus, with a priority on improving accessibility and safety at the Multi-Ethnic Resource Center and the Briggs Library;
  • $13 million for several research and field stations; and
  • $9.97 million for Crookston, with top priorities of replacing equipment in the heating plant, replacing the roof and fixing code issues at Owen Hall and repairing the foundation of Lysaker Gym.

The University of Minnesota has also identified $100 million in repairs for the Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower, home of the College of Dentistry, and the Phillips Wangensteen Building, which house part of the M Health Fairview system.

Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) said campus projects are a high priority for capital investment dollars, but the $206 million in higher education asset preservation proposed by Walz could represent a quarter of what’s available in a capital investment bill.   

“The difficulty we have is that asset preservation needs across the state of Minnesota are gigantic, and one of our failures is keeping up with property the state of Minnesota owns,” he said. “We’ll do the best we can to keep you from falling too far behind, but it’s going to come down to what we can do.”


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