BEMIDJI -- Combining memories of the past with visions for the future, a host of state and local officials gathered at Bemidji State on Monday to commemorate the groundbreaking of the new Hagg-Sauer Hall.

The university recently finished demolishing the former Hagg-Sauer building and plans to replace it with a new, smaller version. University officials say the new building will be a better fit for the students who learn within its walls. The university plans to complete construction on the new building within the next year.

“Just as what was taught here at BSU has changed over time, the way we teach and the way students learn has changed,” said Jay Cowles, chair of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees. “We need our campus facilities to reflect these changes and support students as they strive to learn.”

In addition to Cowles, the speakers at Monday’s groundbreaking included Karen Snorek, BSU vice president of finance and administration; Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; Faith Hensrud, president of Bemidji State; Derek Webb, president of the BSU Faculty Association; and Matthew Sauser, BSU student body president.

Malhotra reiterated Cowles’ comments about providing a building that is able to fit the changing needs of the university’s students.

“I believe the renovation of Hagg-Sauer not only meets students where they are but, importantly, where they need to go,” Malhotra said.

The construction of the new building will be paid for with funds from a $22.5 million bonding bill that the state approved in 2018. The building will retain the same name of Hagg-Sauer. Monday's groundbreaking also included an open house for the A.C. Clark Library, which received renovations as part of the same bonding bill.

Although other buildings on campus have been either updated or demolished more recently, this will be the first new building the university has constructed since 2003 when it built the American Indian Resource Center.

The construction of the new building comes a century after Bemidji State originally opened as a small school for teachers.

“As we at Bemidji State begin our second century, we recognize how truly special this new building will be as we focus on our students and their success,” Hensrud said.