MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

May 11, 2013

North Dakota Legislature provides funding for capital projects


The 2013 legislative session has come to an end. The legislature increased operating funding for the campus for the 2013-15 biennium, but they also agreed that the proposed capital projects were very important and worthy of funding at this time. Mayville State had identified two priority capital projects that were included in the State Board of Higher Education funding request.  

One project involves the replacement of the Old Gymnasium with a 37,344 sq. ft. building that will replicate and expand the current functions of the Old Gym. It will also provide additional instructional lab/practice space needed due to enrollment growth. The state funding request for the project was $5,800,000. The legislature provided $5,510,000 directly to the campus for the project, and an additional 5% ($290,000) will be held in a North Dakota University System pool for our use, if needed.  

The Old Gymnasium, built in 1929, poses serious safety concerns. The replacement project moved to the top of our priority list when a rafter in the building collapsed. This, following two floor collapses, triggered an analysis that reconfirmed structural deficiencies, poor ventilation, outdated wiring and plumbing, the lack of a fire alarm system, and a lack of safe egress from the building. These safety concerns echo the State Board of Higher Education’s number one shared priority - student and employee safety. The hazardous Old Gymnasium has become a critical concern and our architects recommended that it be razed and replaced.

These safety issues have come at a time when Mayville State University is experiencing record enrollment levels and our strategic plan projects significant further growth. MSU’s enrollment in Health, Physical Education and Recreation-related majors has increased by 92.9% in the last five years. In 2011, Sports Management, Fitness and Wellness, Health Education, and Physical Education majors were the third most popular majors at Mayville State University, after only Business Administration and Elementary Education. Most of the students in these programs utilize facilities in the fieldhouse and Old Gym as lab or practice spaces as part of their classes or for out-of-classroom activities. Similarly, the number of student athletes is projected to increase 24% by 2015. Since we do not have separate facilities for academics and athletics, we must share space between academics and athletics and other campus events.

The second Mayville State project that received legislative funding involves campus-wide drainage improvements. In the 2011 legislative session, we were granted funding to conduct a drainage study that analyzed numerous safety issues stemming from poor drainage campus-wide. In this session, Mayville State received $2,153,650 in direct funding to make the drainage improvements recommended in the study. An additional 5% will be held in a North Dakota University System pool for possible allocation, if needed. 

Mayville State’s flat topography is drained with minimally graded landscape areas directed to even shallower graded curb and gutter. Neither Mayville State nor the city has a storm sewer system in this part of town. All water ultimately discharges to a ditch that is severely undersized and drops only six inches in nearly a mile. Spring runoff becomes blocked by ice and snow, creating significant problems for pedestrian and vehicular traffic along Stan Dakken Drive and the nearby athletic and parking facilities. The road creates a negative impression that affects student recruitment and puts public safety at risk.

There are also many areas interior to campus that experience problems associated with poor surface drainage. These drainage problems become hazardous in winter months due to significant sidewalk icing from building downspouts with no other means for an outlet. Standing water contributes to saturated street sub-grade conditions that, when exposed to the freeze-thaw cycle and heavy traffic loads, cause significant pavement and sub-grade failure of the street and parking facilities.

The capital funding provided in the 2013 legislative session will provide a significant boost to our infrastructure, and will provide a safer and more comfortable campus for our students, employees, and the public. I extend my sincere thanks to our legislative delegation for their hard work and support of issues that affect Mayville State, our community, and the State of North Dakota.