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Proposal would convert UND's Hyslop to STEM facility

The Hyslop Sports Center, photographed on November 16, 2015, houses athletic administration offices, an athletic study center, a renowned swimming and diving pool, and coaching offices at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. (Photo by Nick Nelson for Forum News Service)

GRAND FORKS — A reshuffling of athletic training facilities on the University of North Dakota campus could open space for a science facility in what is now the Hyslop Sports Center.

UND President Mark Kennedy said the new lab space, which would be dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics — STEM, for short — would repurpose an area of the Hyslop that currently houses weight room facilities.

But there are no immediate plans to move in the Bunsen burners. Kennedy said the establishment of a STEM facility is contingent on progress being made toward completing phase two of the UND High Performance Center, an $18 million-plus facility, the first phase of which was completed in 2015.

The build-out of the second stage is estimated to cost a further $15 million and would include locker space, coaching offices and facilities for sports medicine, academic support and strength and conditioning. The addition would be backed by private fundraising.

Kennedy has expressed a desire to increase UND's fundraising efforts and has overseen the early development of a broad push for updated campus facilities. The campuswide strategic plan, a primary focus of his first year in office, sketched a general roadmap for campus use that is now being incorporated in a master plan for facilities.

In the most recent legislative session, the university won approval to fundraise tens of millions of dollars to fund projects such as major renovations to the Chester Fritz Library and Gamble Hall, home of the College of Business and Public Administration. That fundraising has yet to begin in earnest.

Kennedy flagged phase two of the HPC as another target for fundraising in the time to come, but it's not yet clear how much of the addition can be expected to materialize.

"We're planning on there being an HPC two, there's been plans there already," he said. "But we need to answer, are our fundraising efforts realistic, do we have the potential to raise that kind of money? Or do we need to scale it where we can meet fundraising objectives? That's part of what needs to get wrapped up in the master plan."

The STEM center, Kennedy said, is included in that plan for now.

Mike Pieper, chief of UND facilities, said the updated science center is written in a 30-year-vision — "so it's down the road a little bit."

The decision to move toward planting the STEM facility in the Hyslop is largely based on relocations of the hall's athletic functions. Some uses of the Hyslop have already been moved to the relatively new UND Wellness Center, for instance, while others have shifted to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Still others were placed in the HPC upon its completion. If the second phase of that center is finished, it would mean even more dispersal.

Pieper said the university is focusing right now on projects approved by the state, a slate that includes the Chester Fritz and Gamble Hall initiatives, as well as a potential remodel of Memorial Union. Beyond those, UND is also considering a remodel of Merrifield Hall to accommodate high usage rates there. Both the STEM building and the potential Merrifield update "are some things we'd look for legislative appropriations" to fund, Pieper said, meaning that any timelines for work on those projects will be closely linked to the state funding cycle.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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