Eau Claire (WQOW)- The second phase of funding and planning for UW-Eau Claire’s new Science and Health Sciences building is being put on hold after funding for the project was pushed back.
The University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents did not include funding for much of the project in it’s 2021-23 biennial state budget. The board had previously approved $109 million for the first phase of funding, which includes demolishing Putnam and Thomas Hall to make room for the new building. However, the board did not include the remaining $147 million needed to complete the project, instead scheduling it to be included in their 2025-27 budget. Part of the funding also included the demolition of the roughly 60-year-old L.E. Phillips Science Hall, which will now remain the home for science students for longer than expected.
The university is partnering with Mayo Clinic for partial funding of the new building, along with research collaboration, new curriculum, and technology that will enhance student learning. School officials say they’re disappointed in the board’s decision because the students deserve a better learning experience than what the damaged Phillips Hall currently provides.
“The students and the faculty in that building have been doing amazing work within the confines of what that infrastructure is doing for them,” said Paula Gilbeck, interim director of university relations at UW-Eau Claire. “We really want to get working on this to make sure we can get our partnership going with Mayo and get new facilities going for our students and staff.”
Chancellor James Schmidt said he will form a campus building committee this fall to work with architects on designing the building. Under the project’s original plan, construction was set to begin in the fall of 2022, but the university said they will work to develop a new timeline based on the Board of Regents’ decision.