NDSU's chemistry building aging so poorly, crews may let it burn if it catches fire
BISMARCK--The president of North Dakota State University pleaded with the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday, May 24, to request state funding for two capital projects that could have safety and accreditation implications at NDSU.
BISMARCK-The president of North Dakota State University pleaded with the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday, May 24, to request state funding for two capital projects that could have safety and accreditation implications at NDSU.
One of those projects is demolishing and rebuilding Dunbar Hall, the 52-year-old chemistry building that was overlooked for funding last legislative session.
"It is literally dangerous," Dean Bresciani said to the board. "We've been informed by the Fire Department that in the event of a fire, they would most likely back away from the building."
Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen confirmed that is a possibility, "just knowing the building, the age of the building, the construction type, what's in the building," he said.
"There could be a situation where, if it became a large fire, we would take a position that we're not going to injure anybody to save property," he said.
The 2015 higher education budget bill included $46 million in contingency funding for Dunbar, but that was dependent on the state's general fund revenue and "obviously, we went in the wrong direction on that," Bresciani said. A revised revenue forecast in February projected a $1.07 billion shortfall this biennium, due in part to the falling price of oil.
On Tuesday, the board heard the campus presidents speak on their proposed capital projects for the 2017-19 budget request.
Bresciani also asked the board to prioritize a $35 million addition to Sudro Hall, which houses the College of Health Professions. Without the expansion, NDSU's nursing program is at risk of losing its accreditation or being forced to reel back enrollments, he said.
"Either one of those would be cataclysmic," Bresciani said.
NDSU's School of Nursing is turning away "hundreds" of students due to lack of space, Bresciani said, at a time when the state has a severe nursing shortage.
When a new Sanford Health hospital opens in Fargo next year, "that will worsen an already bad situation," Bresciani said.
NDSU has secured $10 million in a private donation for the project, according to the university's meeting materials.
Vice Chairman Don Morton, board member Greg Stemen and faculty adviser Eric Murphy all voiced support for expanding Sudro Hall.
The system office will analyze the projects and give recommendations to the Budget and Finance Committee in June. Projects will go to the full board for final approval later that month.
The budget request is due in August. The Legislature will set a new two-year budget for higher education and other state agencies when it meets next year starting in January.