MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler warned that world-famous research at the U could slow down if the legislature does not approve funding to update its century-old laboratories.

The university is asking for $299 million for university construction and renovation projects. But Gov. Mark Dayton is supporting only one-third of the amount.

The university brought along video of some of the conditions scientists are working under, including a 113-year-old structure where the university is conducting groundbreaking research into Asian carp — trying to find a way to stop the invasive species.

Research into the science of why honey bees are dying shows promise, but it’s also in an old building from 1930s.

President Kaler called the request urgent, but also necessary.

“If you or your family own an old home, fixing the pipes, plugging a hole in the roof, upgrading the wiring and assuring energy efficiency is all pretty important,” he said. “We want to do that at the university, too. Thirty percent of our buildings are 70 years old or older.”

President Kaler said Monday, the University of Minnesota has 29 million feet of buildings it needs to maintain and some requests get more urgent as time passes.

In comparison, the Mall of America is four million square feet.

A big part of the funding would go to renovation and remodeling, for everything from rewiring to energy efficiency and handicapped accessibility. It would also go to two new research buildings — in Minneapolis and Duluth.

It’s a big enough price tag that it’s giving lawmakers sticker shock — even with a billion dollar surplus.

Pat Kessler

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