MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 11, 2023 

Grateful for current and future legislative support

Mayville State’s funding request for the renovation of Old Main, a number one priority for the North Dakota University System, was approved in the North Dakota House of Representatives and has moved to the Senate for their consideration. We are extremely grateful for the support received thus far and look forward to talking with our Senators regarding the importance of this project for our university and our state.

Old Main is the iconic face of Mayville State University. The four-story, 55,000 sq. ft. building, constructed in two phases, in 1890 and 1905, is the original building on the Mayville State campus. The building has served our campus and community well for well over 100 years, but it’s time for improvements that impact life safety for our students, faculty, and staff.

The proposed $49,970,100 project includes replacement of fire alarms and addition of an emergency notification system, as well as a new or enhanced automatic fire suppression system. The interior stairway access will be reconfigured to address fire safety concerns. The deteriorating and cracking foundation of the building will be repaired, and obsolete electrical power and lighting systems will be gutted and replaced. ADA compliance will be addressed with accessible restrooms, elevator access on all levels, and installation of an egress from the theatre. Housing for new mechanical systems and equipment will be provided, and the Old Main Theatre will be renovated.

The project will address the most significant deferred maintenance on the Mayville State campus. The inadequate HVAC system will be gutted and replaced, as will the antiquated plumbing system. The building exterior will be updated and sealed. Administrative and instructional areas of the building will be reorganized to meet current and future needs. New technology, data, communication systems, and infrastructure will be provided.

An engineering firm has conducted an initial assessment of the building and determined that the foundation is viable. We’ve also determined that renovation is more cost effective than building a new structure. The cost of building new would increase the cost of the project by $150 per sq. ft.

Mayville State Vice President for Business Affairs Amber Hill and I were in Bismarck to request support for the Old Main renovation project in our presentation to the Senate Appropriations Committee Education & Environment Division Meeting on March 8.

In addition to presenting information about the Old Main project, we were able to request Senate support for employee compensation equity and retention to include all full-time employees. The legislators’ recognition of the need to compensate employees for their efforts is sincerely appreciated. We are asking for a 6% increase for this coming year and 4% the next year, as was the governor’s recommendation in his executive budget.

The Senate is currently considering a 4% compensation increase for state employees for this coming year, and an additional 4% for the next year. In this scenario, the state would provide the 4% increase to cover only salary dollars that come from state appropriated sources. Many of Mayville State’s employees are paid from other sources, including grants and other external or local funds. Since the state increase does not apply to these dollars, we would need to come up with the funds locally to cover a 4% increase for salaries coming from external sources. This would be extremely difficult for us to do, given our very tight budgets. We are asking the legislature to cover the amount needed to provide the salary increases for those paid from sources other than state appropriated dollars or tuition dollars.

Our last request of the legislators is for funding that would help us combat the effects of record inflation and cost increases.

We at Mayville State work hard every day to serve the state of North Dakota in a variety of ways, including with workforce needs. We are providing well-qualified graduates for several high-need areas in North Dakota, including teachers at all levels and nurses that are so badly needed in healthcare settings. In addition, the largest percentage of the students we serve are North Dakota residents (79% of freshmen last fall). We are profoundly appreciative of the efforts of the state’s legislators as they work to make North Dakota the best it can be for all citizens. It is our privilege to serve as an extension of their work and the overall vision for our great state.