IT center tops funding lists

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- A list of university building projects recommended Thursday would eliminate risks in the information technology system, provide a facility to train more doctors and improve access to education.

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- A list of university building projects recommended Thursday would eliminate risks in the information technology system, provide a facility to train more doctors and improve access to education.

State Board of Higher Education members voted 6-1 to ask the Legislature for about $107 million in state funding for what they see as the top 12 major building projects for the system.

In setting the priorities, board members did not spread out the projects among the 11 campuses as they have done in the past, said Chancellor Bill Goetz.

Instead, board members used guidelines to determine which projects were most needed.

"It's time that we allocate resources on the basis of good policy," Goetz said.


UND has two major projects that made the list -- a $28.9 million health sciences facility and a $12.5 million addition to the Energy and Environmental Research Center.

This is the first time UND has requested state funding for a construction project for the EERC, which does not have any degree programs or classrooms.

However, students are engaged in applied research at the EERC and the facility furthers UND's energy and environmental mission, UND President Robert Kelley said.

"This will increase the capacity for student learning and for student engagement and the research enterprise at UND," Kelley said.

The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences facility is part of the school's overall proposal to expand the number of doctors it trains.

"In my mind, it's more than a building," Goetz said. "It speaks to a new generation of how we approach medical health science education in the state of North Dakota as well as really becoming a major player in medical health education in the region."

North Dakota State University and Mayville State University do not have any projects that made the top 12. NDSU's request for $10 million to renovate Ceres Hall was No. 13.

Board members also prioritized another 13 projects they feel are needed, but decided it wasn't realistic to ask the Legislature for more than $200 million for major building projects.


During the last session, board members sought an estimated $105 million for major building projects and received about two-thirds of that, said Laura Glatt, vice chancellor for administrative affairs.

Here's a look at some of the other highlights:

* The No. 1 priority is a $17 million information technology facility that would serve the whole university system but be housed at UND.

The IT functions based at UND support the ConnectND software system for the colleges and universities as well as the state's library system.

The current facilities put those functions at risk if there is an electrical failure or flooding. The project was a high priority for the board last session, but wasn't funded by legislators.

* Listed No. 2 is a $10.8 million addition and renovation for Rhoades Science Center at Valley City State. The project would serve the university's fastest-growing majors and resolve some health and safety concerns.

* Also in the list is $8.5 million for a Bismarck Higher Education Center to house the four-year degree programs offered at Bismarck State College by three universities.

Dickinson State began offering four-year degrees at Bismarck State College 10 years ago, and enrollment has grown to about 300 students, said Dickinson State President Richard McCallum. He expects that to double by 2015.


"There is clearly a strong educational need there," McCallum said.

Minot State and UND also offer programs in Bismarck that would be housed in the center.

* Not making the top 12 was a request from UND's School of Law for $9.8 million in state funding for a 31,000-square-foot addition that would offer students more space and up-to-date technology. Law school officials said the update is needed for the Law School to keep up with emerging standards in legal education.

More space would also help in the creation of a legal center specializing in economic and trade issues, which is a goal of the school. The Law School building is 86 years old and the law library 35 years old.

Herald Staff Writer Tu-Uyen Tran contributed to this article.

Dalrymple writes for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which, ls owned by Forum Communicaitons Co.

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