Sustaining SMSU

SMSU was very fortunate this month to host the Senate Capital Investment Committee as part of their statewide tour of proposed bonding projects. Committee Chairman, Sen. Dave Senjem, along with Sen. Gary Dahms and many of the other committee members spent time on campus to learn more about our needs and the value of the state’s investment in capital projects at SMSU and across the Minnesota State system. Our greatest need is for funding to preserve the assets we have and make necessary repairs and upgrades to ensure sustainability of our campus buildings.

Asset preservation is the No. 1 request for all of Minnesota State this year and the system is requesting $130 million through the bonding process to ensure that campuses have the resources to keep up with maintenance of our facilities. The repair and replacement of roofs and exterior building envelopes, plumbing and electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, and life and safety systems that keep our students safe are critical investment to protect campus facilities. Of the systems $130 million request approximately $4.5 million would come to SMSU to help address our most critical repair and maintenance needs. While we have a nearly $25 million backlog of needs, the most critical at this time are repair and replacement of the pool deck and plumbing in our swimming and diving pools and the replacement of the original curtain wall (windows) and link ways that connect our academic buildings.

Our campus is now 50 years old and most of our facilities were built within a relatively short time of the campus opening. These buildings have served our students and the community well but the time is crucial for the state to invest in upgrading them to serve us long in to the future. Bonding dollars ensure that we as an institution have the resources to keep our students safe, that we are good stewards by creating energy efficient practices and that we can direct critical operating funds toward educational outcomes instead of building repairs.

I want to thank Gov. Mark Dayton for his recognition of the critical need for protecting and investing in our existing infrastructure and the importance of keeping up with the state maintenance backlog that only continues to grow. His recommendation of $180 million in asset preservation funds for Minnesota State would have a welcome impact and start to address SMSU’s need for critical facility repairs.

Maintenance and investment by the state of Minnesota is essential to the long term viability of our campus physical plant and the ability to attract and retain students to SMSU. Our facilities are not only important to those here on campus but they are here for the entire region to utilize and be proud of. Thank you to our legislators who recognize the importance of the state’s investment and are working to ensure that future investments are made to assist in sustaining our beautiful campus.