Governor Tony Evers today announced the inclusion of $109 million for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's proposed new Science and Health Sciences Building in his 2019-21 state capital budget during a press conference in the university's Phillips Science Hall.
Even in a capital budget cycle with significantly more requests to consider than in typical two-year budgets, Evers noted that the UW-Eau Claire project was distinctive for the impact it would have on northwestern Wisconsin.
“This partnership embodies the Wisconsin Idea, benefiting not only students but the communities they go on to serve after graduation,” Gov. Evers said. “The state’s investment will leverage taxpayer dollars to support the Chippewa Valley’s emergence as a healthcare innovation hub, while also investing in a visionary campus that is tackling some of the most pressing healthcare and technology issues facing rural Wisconsinites.”
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt thanked area lawmakers, who have advocated for the Science and Health Sciences Building project in Madison. Schmidt applauded the governor’s decision to advance the project in the budget process.
“I know that Governor Evers has seen the necessity of replacing Phillips Hall and also recognizes the effect this investment will have on our campus and the state,” Schmidt said. “Beyond providing for state-of-the-art laboratory spaces, the Science and Health Sciences Building project positions UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System to focus resources on producing the next generation of health care providers and researchers.”
The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce has advocated for the Science and Health Sciences Building for months, and David Minor, the chamber’s president and CEO, indicated the organization will continue to engage the legislature on the project’s importance for area talent retention and attraction.
“This project on UW-Eau Claire’s campus was one of the chamber’s top priorities we asked legislators to support at this year’s Chippewa Valley Rally,” Minor said. “I couldn’t be more excited by Governor Evers and our many great legislators from the Chippewa Valley standing behind the Science and Health Sciences Building. We’re going to keep spreading the word about this project because it would serve as a catalyst for Eau Claire’s growing health care innovation industry, while also putting the university and Mayo Clinic Health System on a course to address needs in rural health care and technology.”
Dr. Richard Helmers, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System’s northwest Wisconsin region, reiterated his organization’s commitment to the new science building and excitement about collaborating with UW-Eau Claire.
“This is an incredibly exciting thing when one talks about training the health care workforce of the future, and research scientists as we go forward," Helmers said. "We strongly support this project, and again want to thank everybody for continuing to advance this so we can provide the best care that we can for people in western Wisconsin.”
Last week, state representatives Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) toured Phillips Hall with Schmidt and area legislators. The State Building Commission, of which Born and Swearingen are members, will be the first legislative committee to consider the Science and Health Sciences Building project after Evers’ capital budget introduction. From there, the capital budget works its way through the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance and both the Assembly and Senate before ending up on Evers’ desk for possible line-item vetoes and final approval.
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt and Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, are available to provide additional comment on UW-Eau Claire’s proposed Science and Health Sciences Building project. Please direct media inquiries to Corry Mahnke in the Chancellor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-2327.