Friday, August 22, 2014

Regent, campus, community support move key projects forward

Thursday was a significant day for UW-Eau Claire as the UW System Board of Regents unanimously reaffirmed support for the Confluence Project and also included funding for much-needed major renovations of Towers residence hall in the 2015-17 capital budget recommendations.

I was especially heartened by the strong community and regent support for the Confluence Project. Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid, Eau Claire County Board First Vice-Chair Colleen Bates, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob McCoy, Visit Eau Claire Executive Director Linda John, and Student Body President Sam Fish and Vice President Jake Wrasse all made the trip to Oshkosh to talk with regents in advance of their meeting to explain why the Confluence Project is such a win-win for our campus and the greater Eau Claire community.

During the meeting, regents John Behling, Ed Manydeeds and Vice President Regina Millner publicly stated their support for the Confluence Project, acknowledging the years of collaboration involving multiple partners to develop a project that will meet the arts facilities needs of the campus and community; the impressive support expressed by voters in the two April 1 referendums; and the potential economic development impact the project will have on Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley region.

Meanwhile, the regents’ inclusion of nearly $33 million of program revenue (non-tax dollar) funding for Towers Hall is an essential step in realizing the goals of our Campus 2010-30 Master Plan to expand and improve UW-Eau Claire residence hall capacity. Towers is our largest residence hall — with its nearly 1,300 beds representing nearly one-third of all available residence hall beds on campus — and has never undergone a major renovation since it opened in 1967.

I want to personally thank the regents for their support and also thank all of our campus and community partners who have worked so tirelessly to bring these two projects to the forefront. We will now continue our advocacy with the Governor and legislature to ensure both the Confluence Project and Towers renovation funding are included in the 2015-17 state budget.