October 25, 2011
Rick Smith | UMD American Indian Learning Resource Center | 218 726-6379 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Banovetz | UMD Director of External Affairs | 218 726-6141 | email@example.com
U of M Regents Give Green Light to Duluth American Indian Center
The cost of proposed AILRC building is about $11 million. If included in a state bonding bill and contingent on approval by the 2012 Minnesota Legislature and Governor, about $7 million of the building's cost would be funded through the state. UMD would fund the remaining portion of the cost.
UMD is seeking support for the new building because of its leadership role in providing educational programs to American Indians. UMD's set of American Indian programs comprise one of the nation's largest with more than 20 different student programs scattered across and squeezed into spaces throughout its campus.
"This building is about much more than needing more space. It's a gathering place for everyone, no matter the culture and ethnicity, to learn about our similarities and differences," says Rick Smith, director of the AILRC. "It's hard to have a respect for other cultures until you have an understanding of them."
Smith points out that the majority of students taking American Indian classes are non-Indians.
The building would have approximately 19,000 square feet and include classrooms, a Great Room for campus events, and offices for student services. It would be the fifth LEED-certified building on the UMD campus.
According to UMD Chancellor Lendley C. Black, the new building is important to the University, especially given its proximity to nearby reservations, collaborations, and outreach activities in the area. "The center will be a great gathering place for UMD's American Indian students," Black said. "The AILRC understands the difficulty students may have in adjusting to a college life style and the central location will allow staff to better provide supportive services to American Indian and Alaskan Students."
The first American Indian graduated from UMD in the 1960s and the College of Liberal Arts established an American Indian Studies department in 1972, initially offering a minor. The program has expanded to two majors and two minors, and in 2011, 125 American Indian and Alaskan Native students were seeking careers in native-centered medicine, education, social work and other fields. Since 1983, the AILRC has provided campus-wide student support services to American Indian and Alaskan Native students. In addition to the AILRC, the University of Minnesota's state capital request for 2012 includes four other projects. UMD's project is the only project included in the University's request that is from a University campus in Greater Minnesota. The total of the University's request, including UMD's project, is $209 million, of which the state would bond for about $169 million with the U of M system funding the remaining $40 million.
The other four projects, three on the Minneapolis campus and one in Itasca, include renovating buildings and adding new laboratories. The project in Itasca, located in Itasca State Park, is a Twin Cities campus initiative involving the construction of a new biological lab and classroom facility.