October, 2018

Buildings and facilities are an important part of the identity of college campuses — former students vividly remember their dorms or where their favorite classes were held.  But how and why do these spaces get built? And who pays for them?

Many of Minnesota’s private colleges are old — some are over 150 years old — and maintaining and renovating the colleges’ existing stock of buildings is a big job. This work is as simple and important as replacing new heaters to renovating an entire building. 

“You can defer investing in maintenance and repairs to a degree,” said Angela Riley, executive vice president, chief financial officer, treasurer and corporate secretary at St. Catherine University. “If you are not continually making an investment in your infrastructure, you will get to a point where catching up on your deferred maintenance will cost as much as building new. It’s important to maintain and renovate if you want to preserve critical parts of your physical history.”

Renovating is a great way to preserve the important identity certain campus buildings have while providing new up-to-date learning spaces for students. “With students, faculty and staff becoming more technologically advanced we see demand for spaces to host up-to-date technology,” Riley said. “It’s important for spaces to accommodate current teaching methods and technology.”

Minnesota private colleges also decide at times that new construction is the only way to meet current student needs, whether that’s for classrooms, dorms or dining halls.

Options for funding building projects — both renovations and new construction — include using current cash flows, financing and donor support. One of the important ways private nonprofit colleges finance facilities projects is through the Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority. The authority provides low-interest financing to private non-profit colleges to help colleges afford facility improvements.

“Public institutions finance through bonds but also get state appropriation for facilities — essentially cash the state issues,” said Barry Fick, executive director of the authority. “In general, private colleges do not receive state funding for capital projects. The average tax payer in Minnesota doesn’t pay a thing for these projects.”

There are a couple reasons an institution might build new, including changes in state or regulatory code, to take advantage of new more cost efficient technology or to provide the student with the best possible education. “If the student is going into science and they’re going to work for Medtronic or Abbott they’ll be using top-notch equipment,” Fick said. “And the employer is going to expect them to know how to use that equipment.”

When private non-profit colleges want to build new, they can’t rely on state funds like public institutions can, so often the first thing they do is start a capital campaign to secure private funding. “Donors are and have always been a critical component in keeping private institutions up-to-date and competitive,” Riley said.

And these donors are privately supporting institutions that benefit the state. “These projects enhance the workforce of the state,” Fick said, “and ultimately improve the state as a whole.” 

In addition, the spending on renovation and building projects has a positive immediate impact on the Minnesota’s economy, in terms of materials purchased and people hired to get the work done. In 2016 Minnesota private colleges spent more than $73 million on construction projects.

By Tom Lancaster

Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion at Augsburg University
The interdisciplinary Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion, inaugurated in January 2018 at Augsburg University, is designed to foster intersections among areas of study, support active learning and connect the University to the community. As such, the new building embodies Augsburg’s commitment to student learning, urban placemaking and thoughtful stewardship.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

renovated Holland Hall at St. Olaf College
St. Olaf College's Holland Hall, modeled on the Mont-Saint-Michel monastery in France, stands as one of the most majestic and iconic buildings on St. Olaf College’s campus. Thanks to a recent $13 million renovation, the interior is light-filled, more energy efficient and includes adaptable classrooms filled with modern teaching technologies, lounge areas, rooms for group work and quiet study spots.
new 7,000-square-foot space for Bethel University’s undergraduate Department of Business and Economics
The new 7,000-square-foot space for Bethel University’s undergraduate Department of Business and Economics offers ample space for hands-on, interactive learning and collaboration. It also includes a financial markets lab — sponsored in part by Thrivent Asset Management — that allows students to monitor real-time stock tickers as they invest funds and manage a financial services firm for real clients through the student-managed investment fund.
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Construction is now underway at the College of Saint Benedict to redesign and renovate the Main Building into the 21st century academic hub of the campus. The academic departments of economics, mathematics, computer science and psychology will occupy the Main Building, along with reimagined classrooms.
Construction is now underway at the College of Saint Benedict to redesign and renovate the Main Building into the 21st century academic hub of the campus. The academic departments of economics, mathematics, computer science and psychology will occupy the Main Building, along with reimagined classrooms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

new Nursing Skills and Simulation Lab at The College of St. Scholastica
Nursing students at The College of St. Scholastica began using a new Nursing Skills and Simulation Lab during the 2018 spring semester. The state of the art learning space is part of a three-phase $5.5 million upgrade of nursing facilities. Pictured: Dr. Aileen Beard, dean of the School of Sciences, with post-baccalaureate students Kristen Williams (left) and Zachary Jones (right).
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renovted Anderson Hall
Gustavus Adolphus College's completely renovated Anderson Hall reopened in January 2017 and now houses the Department of Education, Center for Academic Resources and Enhancement and Writing Center, John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning and a new multifaith center. With a focus on best practices in education, the building incorporates modern learning spaces and gathering areas for collaboration. It was certified as LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council in March 2018. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

renovation of Sorin Hall at Hamline University
renovation of Sorin Hall at Hamline University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons and renovated Alcuin Library at Saint John’s University
The new Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons and renovated Alcuin Library at Saint John’s University, completed in 2017, is designed for the kind of learning and teaching essential to preparing students for their future. These buildings combine flexible classrooms, the latest technology and a variety of informal social learning spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Adams Mondale Hall of Studio Art opened in 2014 at Macalester College
Macalester College’s Joan Adams Mondale Hall of Studio Art opened in 2014. This renovated and expanded building includes flexible spaces for sculpture, drawing, printmaking, painting and 2-D design, including studios to support senior capstone projects. A new theater, dance, and classroom building is currently under construction and scheduled to open in spring 2019.
new Veterans Resource Center at the University of St Thomas
The Veterans Resource Center opened in 2017 at the University of St Thomas, and the campus is on way to becoming the most veteran-friendly university in the upper Midwest. St. Thomas aim to equip military-affiliated students with tools to succeed at school and beyond and offer services for veterans who are coming home and coming back to school.
Science and Learning Center at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Science and Learning Center, completed in 2017, was funded entirely by benefactor gifts. The $19.7 million facility — with state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, lecture halls and gathering spaces — provides students with an even greater career preparation advantage as it allows the university to host events like a regenerative medicine workshop.