Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed Jobs Bill recommends re-purposing Eastman Hall as an academic and student-services health facility.
Announced Jan. 4, the $1.5 billion public construction/bonding proposal would fund more than 240 building projects and support nearly 23,000 jobs, according to system officials.
St. Cloud State, in collaboration with the Minnesota State system office, is seeking $18.6 million to renovate Eastman. Built in 1929, the former physical education building on the Mississippi River is now vacant.
The 54-campus Minnesota State system is also seeking $143 million in new funding for the period July 1, 2017-June 30, 2019. St. Cloud State’s portion would be $14.6 million. Among other things, that money would fund a two-year tuition freeze.
“Gov. Dayton’s proposal acknowledges the statewide significance of St. Cloud State, which delivers a half-billion dollars in annual economic impact and improves tens of thousands of lives,” said Ashish Vaidya, interim president. “The proposal is a promise to maintain and improve the Minnesota State system, our state’s largest higher-education provider.”
What’s at stake?
A fully funded request will:
- Advance graduation rates, deepen industry partnerships and build a sustainable level of program offerings and community engagement
A partially funded request will:
- Result in unfilled positions, leading to increased class sizes and fewer class-time options
- Hinder our ability to invest in new technology and maintain infrastructure.
Said Vaidya: “We thank the governor and look forward to working with legislators to invest in workforce talent, reduce economic and racial disparities, and protect access to affordable higher education.”
The Eastman Hall design work is done, thanks to $865,000 in bonding authority from the 2014 Legislature. The project would renovate 43,291 gross square feet (GSF) and build 15,562 new GSF. Plans call for an outdoor mezzanine facing the river.
Among the programs that would move into the building are Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and UCHOOSE, a program that combats binge and underage drinking.
The building would also house classrooms and clinical-training space for programs in the School of Health and Human Services (SHHS). SSHS offers 13 undergraduate-degree programs and 11 graduate-degree programs.
“A renovated Eastman Hall would greatly expand opportunities for experiential learning,” said Monica Devers, SHHS dean.
By the numbers
$12.4 million in the Jobs Bill reflects the $18.6 million Eastman price tag minus what the University pays in debt service
$110 million in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Repair (HEAPR) money includes $1.3 million for St. Cloud State
$143 million in new Minnesota State funding would, among other things, support a two-year tuition freeze