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NDSU gets nod to raise money for new ag center, indoor athletic practice facility

The North Dakota State University campus. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — The State Board of Higher Education has given the green light for North Dakota State University backers to launch fundraising drives for major campus building proposals, including a $60 million agriculture center and a $37.2 million indoor practice facility.

Both requests, approved unanimously on Wednesday, May 23, still would require approval from North Dakota legislators and, if granted, final authorization from the higher education board before construction can start.

As planned, the proposed agricultural products development center would be built with $6 million in private funding and $54 million in state appropriations. The center would replace buildings that date back to the 1950s and no longer meet research and teaching needs — or even current building standards, NDSU officials have said.

The agricultural products center would replace Harris Hall and the meats lab. It would house research and instructional space for both crop and livestock agriculture as well as food science.

"The programs are not only important in ensuring food security for the citizens of North Dakota and the surrounding region but also in the ability to trade the state's products internationally," according to a memo outlining the proposal.

A new center would address health, safety, food grade and building code issues that now plague the outdated facilities it would replace, NDSU officials have said.

Board members also gave NDSU backers the go-ahead to start raising funds for a $37.2 million multi-sport indoor practice facility that would replace a plastic "bubble" that provides temporary shelter, but must be dismantled and rebuilt.

Similarly, board members authorized University of North Dakota backers to raise money for a $35 million second phase of the High Performance Center for athletics.

In other action, board members decided to wait to terminate a ground lease between Dickinson State University and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. Dickinson State was instrumental in advancing a proposed presidential library for Roosevelt, who ranched in the Little Missouri Badlands.

But, saying it was acting at the behest of major donors, the foundation board recently decided to locate the presidential library instead in or near Medora, the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands.

Members decided they wanted more information, including costs that could be associated with decommissioning the planned Dickinson State site. The university incurred costs intended to augment the presidential library, including upgrades to rodeo grounds.

Board members also were briefed on potential impacts of additional state funding cuts. A proposed 10 percent reduction in support to the state's 11 higher education campuses could cut $51 million from the $507 million current funding base, after cuts.

If an additional 3-percent contingency cut is imposed, that would trim another $15.3 million from state campuses, according to North Dakota University System figures.

The impact to NDSU would be a loss of almost $12.7 million for the 10-percent cut and another $3.8 million if the contingency cuts are implemented. NDSU's current budget was cut 18.3 percent from the previous two-year budget.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

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