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State Building Commission approves $75 million for UW-Stevens Point science facility

By Portage County Business Council

The State Building Commission approved a $75 million request Thursday to construct a new science center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The governor’s capital budget for 2013-2015 recommended the $75 million to construct a new chemistry and biology education facility at UW-Stevens Point. The State Building Commission’s Higher Education Subcommittee supported it March 19, and the full Commission endorsed it March 21.
“The Building Commission’s endorsement represents a significant milestone in the funding process,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson. “We are grateful for the Building Commission’s support of our full request and pleased that members recognized as a priority the need for new facilities to best prepare students for careers in today’s technology and knowledge-based global economy.”
The 169,165-square-foot building will contain educational labs, lecture halls and research facilities for biology and chemistry. Flexible room configurations combined with modern technology will support hands-on learning and student research, hallmarks of a UW-Stevens Point education. The building will be constructed with sustainable, energy-conserving design with a goal of earning a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating.
The next step in the funding process is the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee review in May. Following its anticipated action, the Legislature will consider the request as part of the full state budget in June. The budget requires the governor’s signature. With funding in the 2013-15 biennium budget, construction could start in spring 2015. A new science building is expected to be completed the spring 2017, said Carl Rasmussen, UW-Stevens Point director of facilities planning.
“Building a science facility is a marathon, not a sprint,” Patterson said. “The finish line remains ahead.”
Chemistry and biology faculty first identified the need for more space 20 years ago. The existing Science Building was built in 1963, and many systems are outdated or worn. “We’re teaching 21st century chemistry in a Sputnik building,” Rasmussen said, referring to the Soviet Union’s satellite program from the 1950s-1960s. UW-Stevens Point has worked in earnest on building plans and funding for the past five years.
The last major academic building project was a 113,000-square-foot addition and remodeling of the College of Fine Arts, completed in 2005. “It’s been 40 years since we’ve built a free-standing facility of this caliber,” Rasmussen said.
About 30 percent of chemistry majors complete graduate and professional programs after leaving UW-Stevens Point. From 1997-2006, UW-Stevens Point had more graduates complete doctorate degrees in science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors than any other UW campus except UW-Madison.
“The Medical College of Wisconsin strongly endorses Governor Scott Walker’s inclusion of $75 million in the state’s next biennial budget to support construction of a new chemistry and biology building at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Our state has been well-served by UW-Stevens Point’s longstanding commitment to science education. This needed facility will enhance the science curriculum at UW-Stevens Point and will provide a strong foundation for their students as they prepare for careers in medicine and the biosciences,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., M.D., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
University Relations and Communications
Stevens Point, WI 54481-3897