MnSCU requests $222.5 million for capital improvements

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Emphasizing a “fix it first” approach to bonding, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities officials presented a $222.5 million request to the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee.

“We are presenting today only our most urgent needs,” said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of the statewide network of state universities, community colleges, technical colleges and 16 combined colleges. The funding request will likely be referred to the House Capital Investment Committee, said Committee Chairman Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls).

Rosenstone positioned state funding for MnSCU students as an investment in Minnesota as the types of buildings needed change to match the changing job market. For example, the post-secondary system instructs 83 percent of Minnesota’s new nursing graduates; 85 percent of law enforcement graduates; and 9,000 firefighters and emergency first responders each year.

MnSCU’s total bonding request is $278.7 million, which is made up of $222.5 million in state bonding and $56.2 million that MnSCU would contribute to its own development. MnSCU officials are concentrating on $110 million in asset preservation and replacement projects.

Of that list, MnSCU is requesting $20.8 million for its seven state universities. The other projects are designed to shore up physical facilities at the system’s 54 separate campuses across the state.

Among them is $750,000 to replace a pair of 45-year-old boilers with a high-efficiency plant at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls.

Fergus Falls isn’t the only MnSCU campus in need of a new heating system. The Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Wadena needs a $700,000 boiler and digital control system; while officials have requested $2.2 million to replace a boiler and piping at Minnesota State University, Moorhead and $1.2 million for the second phase of a central heating plant at Ridgewater College in Willmar.

Even if MnSCU receives the entire $222.5 million it is asking for, that would account for only about one-third of the $655 million that Brian Yolitz, associate vice chancellor for facilities, said is necessary fix up all MnSCU campuses.