Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 11:10 am | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
As the calendar shifts to a new year, it marks the beginning of a new legislative session in North Dakota. As you know, our Legislature meets every odd-numbered year in Bismarck from approximately early-January through late April. Last week, I appeared in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee (and later in the Session I will testify in front of a similar committee in the House) to discuss VCSU's 2013-15 biennial budget. Additionally, I had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Education committee last week as well. Among other initiatives discussed, a good portion of both presentations focused on VCSU capital priorities that are included in Governor Jack Dalrymple's budget.

Two items in particular that were highlighted during both presentations were funding requests to support a complete renovation of the building housing Vangstad Auditorium along with funding to mitigate a hillslide problem on the southeast edge of campus. As stated, funding support for both of these important campus projects were included in Governor Dalrymple's Executive Budget recommendation.

VCSU is requesting $3.6 million for a complete renovation to Vangstad Auditorium along with the two floors of classroom and office space below the Auditorium. This beautiful building was constructed in 1907 and has been a vital part of campus for over a century. Vangstad Auditorium is a nerve center for the campus and has hosted many important musical and theatrical performances throughout the years, as well as guest performances, community events, campus gatherings, commencement exercises, lectures and speeches, and other key presentations. The two floors below the Auditorium are important spaces for both classroom and office usage. However, the entire building is showing its age and is in critical need of major repairs and renovation to update the space and ensure long-term maintenance of its useful life. As VCSU enrollment has increased and new academic programs and initiatives have been added in recent years, effective use of this space becomes even more important to our mission of serving and educating students.

In addition to the renovation dollars, VCSU is also requesting an appropriation of $505,000 to be used in mitigating the sliding hill slope behind McCarthy Hall. This sloping hill problem has intensified the past several years, and it is particularly troublesome during the spring thaw each year. These dollars were also included in Governor Dalrymple's Executive Budget recommendation, and would be used to install a pre-cast tie back wall system to create a more permanent fix to this annual sloping hill problem. As the soil continues shifting, this sloping issue causes major headaches around the campus, and could also potentially represent a safety and liability problem if it is not permanently resolved.

It was a good week in Bismarck last week, and we appreciated the opportunity to present our campus updates along with pressing needs to both the Senate Appropriations and Education committees. VCSU looks forward to the remainder of the legislative process in the months ahead, and working to secure the necessary support so these major capital issues can be resolved and further enhance the long-term viability and success of the VCSU campus.