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Red River Valley colleges spend millions on new buildings

Universities and colleges in the northern Red River Valley are pumping millions of dollars into local economies or expect to do so with several campus construction projects.

Erlandson Technical Center at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. (Submitted rendering.)

Universities and colleges in the northern Red River Valley are pumping millions of dollars into local economies or expect to do so with several campus construction projects.

Mayville (N.D.) State University officials are waiting for spring to start construction of a $5.5 million fitness facility.

Lake Region State College in Devils Lake is in the middle of a $5.6 million addition to a technical education building.

Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls is negotiating the construction of a new dormitory by a private developer.

The University of Minnesota-Crookston has proposed a $15.8 million wellness center, and officials are hopeful the Legislature will provide $10 million. The rest would come from local sources.


That’s on top of $189 million being spent on current and future buildings at UND. Like UND, the other institutions are replacing outdated buildings or adding on to accommodate growth.


Mayville State

At MSU, the Health, Physical Education and Recreation facility will replace an 80-year-old gymnasium that is in generally poor condition and it will add space for a program that has nearly doubled in enrollment the past five years.

“Going into last session, we put the HPER building project in as our top priority for a capital project,” said Keith Stenehjem, vice president of academic affairs.

The HPER facility will be attached to an existing campus wellness center. An east addition to the center will house HPER offices, as well as a conference room and storage space. A south addition will house classrooms, labs for both academic and athletic programs, a full-size gym and a three-lane indoor track.

The old gym will continue to be used and won’t be demolished until the project is complete in fall 2015.

“Because of being a small campus, we don’t have separate spaces that can be used for academics and athletics, so we’re looking at how athletics can use this space,” Stenehjem said.


MSU also will start construction this spring on a $2.1 million campus-wide storm water drainage system designed to alleviate flooding.


Lake Region

At Lake Region, the addition and renovation of the Erlandson Technical Center will accommodate the college’s growing nursing, peace officer training and other professional and technical programs, according to Doug Darling, college president.

In recent years, lack of space has forced the college to move several offices and outreach programs off-campus, he said.

The state-funded project is expected to be done in August.

“So far, it’s on time and on budget,” Darling said.

Lake Region was also involved in several construction projects last year.


This past summer the college used a $3 million federal grant to buy and remodel a former farm implement dealership just north of Devils Lake. It houses a growing precision agriculture program.

A year ago this past weekend, the college completed a $7.2 million wind turbine project that is providing the campus with power.

The Erlandson Center likely will include an instrument to monitor energy produced by the turbine.

“That’s so people will be able to see for themselves,” Darling said, how much the project is benefitting the school.


Northland Tech

At NCTC’s Thief River Falls campus, school officials are working to alleviate a housing shortage that has gripped the community.

No less than two recent studies indicated that housing is the top challenge for the area, said Becky Lindseth, the college’s executive director of administrative services.


Officials here are negotiating a contract, including a long-term lease, that would allow a private developer to build a 100- to 140-bed dorm on the Thief River Falls campus, she said.

The goal is to start construction this spring with completion in fall 2015, she said.

The project is in its early stages, and the design could vary. It could be single-bed double-bed rooms, or some combination, she said.



UMC, like MSU, has a wellness center that officials in Crookston maintain is outdated. It was built 30 years ago but some areas date back 80 years.

Thirty years ago, UMC was a two-year junior college with about 850 students, of which about 350 lived on campus. Today, it has about 1,000 on-site students, with about 700 living on campus.

State officials agree a new wellness center is needed. It’s on Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding proposal and ranks third on the UM Board of Regents list of Top 5 funding priorities. Now the fate of the center rests with the Legislature, which begins its session Feb. 25.


“We eagerly await the recommended project lists from the Minnesota Senate and the Minnesota House of Representatives,” said Andrew Svec, UMC director of communications.

If lawmakers approve the $10 million Dayton is asking for, UMC will pay the remaining $5.8 million with some combination of private donations, student fees and other sources, according to college officials.



HPER building at Mayville (N.D.) State University. (Submitted rendering.)

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