MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

October 12, 2013

 Preliminary work on new physical education facility is underway


Mayville State was very fortunate to have received significant capital funding during the North Dakota 63rd Legislative Assembly this past winter and spring. The Legislature increased operating funding for the Mayville State campus for the 2013-15 biennium, and they also agreed that our proposed capital projects were important and worthy of funding. MSU had identified two priority capital projects that were included in the State Board of Higher Education funding request, replacement of the Old Gymnasium with a new building to be used for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) purposes, and a campus drainage project.

The HPER project proposal that was presented involves replacing 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 Mayville State’s use, if needed.  

The Old Gymnasium, built in 1929, poses serious safety concerns. The replacement project moved to the top of the MSU 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This, following two floor collapses, triggered an analysis that reconfirmed structural deficiencies, poor ventilation, outdated wiring and plumbing, the lack of a fire alarm system, and a lack of safe egress from the building.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 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 the 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 there are not separate facilities for academics and athletics, space must be shared between academics and athletics and other campus events.

A campus committee for the Old Gym replacement and improvement project has begun their work of gathering input from stakeholders, and the JLG architectural firm has been hired to work on the project. The proposal to the legislature was a rough estimate of what we would see happening with the project. Now that funding has been awarded and a committee is in place, we can explore what we actually want the new building to be, working within the allotted budget. Design of the project will take place over the next several months, with the goal of requesting construction bids early next spring.

The project committee is chaired by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Keith Stenehjem. Committee members are Steven Bensen, Dan Lorenz, Scott Berry, Mike Moore, John Klocke, Lindsey Johnson, Donna Mark, and Jeremiah Moen.

We are extremely excited about the opportunity we have been given to make further improvements to the Mayville State campus. It is important for us to provide a pleasing and safe environment in which our students can learn and our employees can work. We look forward to sharing plans with you as the details unfold.