Public college bonding requests exceed $300 million


The governing bodies of the state’s public higher education institutions seek more than $300 million in bond proceeds.

Presented Tuesday to the House Capital Investment Committee was the $172.67 million request from the University of Minnesota and $148.5 million request from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. No action was taken.

In each case, HEAPR — Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement — occupies the top spot on the wish lists. These dollars are usually allocated to preserve or retrofit existing facilities, including code compliance, hazardous material abatement and heating and duct work to make buildings more efficient and reduce operating expenses.

The university is requesting $125 million in HEAPR funds for 100 projects; MnSCU $90 million for 114 projects.

According to the nonpartisan House Research Department, the university has received $152 million in HEAPR funds since 2009; MnSCU $146 million.

Advancing workforce development

MnSCU also seeks $49.5 million for six major capital design and construction projects, including $31 million for a science education center at Metropolitan State University, and $9 million for 16 smaller projects bundled within three system initiatives focused in workforce areas of energy, classrooms and science, technology and math.

“Our capital investments are focused on infrastructure needed to advance the workforce, both improve today’s learning spaces and support the growing need for scientists, health professionals, engineers, precision machinists, technologists and other workers in short supply,” said MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

“The HEAPR portion of our request may not be flashy, but it’s critical to our campuses and critical to our students and the faculty that delivers the workforce training there,” said Brian Yolitz, MnSCU associate vice chancellor for facilities.

U’s request part of larger capital plan

The university’s request is part of a six-year capital plan process, said Pam Wheelock, vice president for university services. “The projects that we are advancing this year in the capital request have been thoroughly vetted; they strategically advance our academic research and outreach mission and are financially sound. … We cannot train tomorrow’s generation of workers in yesterday’s laboratories and classrooms.”

Also in the university’s 2013 capital request is $12 million for a campus wellness center on the Crookston campus and $9.67 million for renovation of Eddy Hall on the Minneapolis campus for the international and transfer student admissions program. The 127-year-old building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The request also includes $8 million each for research laboratory improvement and active learning classroom funds, $6 million for renovation of Tate Laboratory on the Minneapolis campus and $4 million for design of the St. Paul campus laboratory investment. State funds would cover two-thirds of these project costs with the remainder funded by the university.