BEMIDJI -- On Thursday, Bemidji State University welcomed its first newly constructed building since 2001.
However, those familiar with BSU won’t have any trouble remembering its name.
Hagg-Sauer Hall, a replacement for the former Hagg-Sauer building demolished last year, was unveiled during a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 12.
The new building boasts panoramic views of Lake Bemidji, new technology, nine classroom spaces and a window into history.
Regardless of the time of day, visitors to Hagg-Sauer Hall will be greeted by a colorful sunrise over Lake Bemidji. On the wall above the new lecture auditorium, is a large mural by Minnesota based artist Stacia Goodman -- with help from BSU. The mural is adorned with words in English and Ojibwe, submitted by students, as well as objects from BSU’s 100+ year history.
Lounge spaces overlooking Lake Bemidji seem to be Hagg-Sauer’s showstopper. Two floors encased with glass overlook the lake and will provide a spot for students to relax and study.
The new academic learning center houses solely classrooms, no faculty offices -- unlike the former building. The building centerpieces a large lecture hall meant to give homage to the former Hagg-Sauer Hall. This auditorium space holds 320 seats.
“This new Hagg-Sauer Hall provides our students with 27,000 feet of academic space including three flexible, collaborative active learning classrooms, four mid-sized classrooms, one large classroom, an auditorium, and perhaps the crown jewel, a second floor common study space overlooking Lake Bemidji,” said provost Allen Bedford, during the opening of the virtual ribbon cutting.
Active learning classrooms divide students into six pod tables with active learning screens, all facing a main screen for lecturers to project upon. The classrooms were installed with LED lighting, and most have large windows providing natural light.
The new building was designed to improve the student experience, avoid costly maintenance and reduce energy costs, BSU officials said. Textured glass was installed on the east and west facing windows in hopes of reducing the potential for avian impact.
Entry doors face the Lower Hobson Memorial Union on one side and the Chet Anderson stadium on the other.
Students will begin attending classes in Hagg-Sauer Hall at the start of spring semester in January.
A rich history
During the opening of the ribbon cutting ceremony, Provost Allen Bedford acknowledged the long journey on the road to the new building.
“Getting to this point has been a journey of about 15 years, beginning with the recognition that the University’s academic spaces needed to evolve to support students' 21st century needs,” he said.
The original Hagg-Sauer was built in 1970, with a basement below the water table of Lake Bemidji, and was torn down after Minnesota State secured the necessary bonding dollars.
Bemidji State reached a significant milestone in its years-long effort to replace the aging Hagg-Sauer Hall when former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the state’s bonding bill into law in May 2018. The $1.57 billion bill appropriated $22.512 million for the project, which called for Hagg-Sauer to be demolished and replaced with a smaller, classroom-focused facility, and for renovations in five other buildings on campus.
Once funding was secured, the whole process moved relatively quickly, with only about a year between Hagg-Sauer’s groundbreaking and its unveiling.
It is the first new building on campus since the American Indian Resource Center was built in 2001.
“Bemidji State University has been a pillar of opportunity in the region for over 100 years. The building’s namesake -- both the old and the new -- honor Professors Hagg and Sauer, two professors and best friends who taught during a period of tremendous growth for the university,” Chair of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Roger Moe said. “Now, at the dawn of the next centennial, Bemidji State University builds for the future. The state-of-the-art classrooms and spaces will transform learning and teaching promoting collaboration and the close faculty-student relationship that are such clear hallmarks at Bemidji State University.”
President Faith Hensrud remarked on the history preserved within the new building's walls.
“This building is a replacement for our old Hagg Sauer Hall, a building which serve thousands of students for more than 50 years,” Hensrud said. “The classes taken, lessons learned and relationships built were an indelible part of the experience that so many of our students had with Bemidji State University. Certainly, many memories were made within that building’s walls. That history is alive and well for our future faculty, staff and students.”
Décor paying homage to historical figures of the past can be found throughout the new Hagg-Sauer Hall. Portraits of the building’s namesakes, professors Harold T. Hagg and Philip R. Sauer are on display -- in new frames -- in the second floor of the building, as well as a rendering of the former building and a portrait and plaque acknowledging professor emeritus of history, Art Lee, for whom the former Hagg-Sauer auditorium was named.
Lee spoke during the virtual event as well, reflecting on his lengthy time at BSU.
During the ribbon cutting, officials expressed hope that the new Hagg-Sauer Hall would continue to serve students for years to come.
“As we look to the future, I believe the new Hagg-Sauer building presents an important opportunity for my fellow students,” BSU Student Senate Vice President Zachary Schueller, a sophomore social studies and political science student from Laporte, said during the event. “This new facility creates a flexible, modern learning environment for us students. It gives us a facility that helps us learn, and thrive, to our full potential.”