Gov. Evers includes UWEC in Capital Budget proposal

$231 million proposed for new Science and Health Sciences Building

Maddie Kasper

More stories from Maddie Kasper


Photo by UW-Eau Claire

Chancellor James Schmidt said the construction of this building will create unique opportunities for UW-Eau Claire undergraduate students that are not available at other institutions focusing on graduate-level research.

Gov. Tony Evers announced the inclusion of $231 million for phase II of UW-Eau Claire’s new Science and Health Sciences Building in the 2023-2025 Capital Budget proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

A news release outlined the governor’s recommended $3.8 billion for long-term infrastructure projects in Wisconsin, including $1.8 billion for infrastructure improvements within the University of Wisconsin System.

“From investments in our UW System campuses so we can grow the next generation of scientists, leaders, educators and innovators, to our state parks and ensuring Wisconsinites can enjoy our vast and valuable natural resources, to finally addressing deferred maintenance projects and the safety of our public facilities, these are critical projects that will help us build the infrastructure of the 21st century,” Evers said in the news release.

Chancellor James Schmidt said getting a new Science and Health Sciences Building has been a top priority for him since he initially toured Phillips Hall when he interviewed for his job at UW-Eau Claire.

“We’ve been laying the groundwork and talking about the importance of this even before we first put it in front of the legislature,” Schmidt said. “Because I could see long-term this was going to be transformational for the university and for the region and the state.”

According to Integrated Marketing and Communications, UW-Eau Claire received $109 million for phase I of the project, which includes $2.04 million from the state for the demolition of Katherine Thomas Hall and Putnam Hall this fall, $93.25 million from the state for the first installment of construction funding and a $13.7 million donation from Mayo Clinic Health System.

The donation from Mayo Clinic Health System will go towards the construction of an additional 10,000 square feet in the building for continued collaboration between the hospital and UW-Eau Claire faculty and students, Schmidt said.

The State Building Commission will vote on the infrastructure recommendations by Evers on Thursday, March 23. After, the Joint Committee on Finance will make adjustments to the Capital Budget to be approved by the State Assembly and State Senate, according to the news release.

Schmidt said the university would go to bid for contractors in November 2023 after the phase II funding is approved in the Capital Budget. Construction of the Science and Health Sciences Building would begin in 2024 and classes would ideally be held in the building in fall 2026.

Evers and State Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld visited UW-Eau Claire on Thursday, March 2, to meet with campus leaders and see the state of Phillips Hall.

“This is a really exciting day. We’re talking about hopefully getting our recommendation through the legislature to make sure that this building is built,” Evers said. “UW-Eau Claire and their partners obviously have spent a lot of time and effort thinking on this issue. It would be our honor to put it in the budget and carry it through.”

Sen. Jeff Smith and Gov. Tony Evers tour the campus with Chancellor James Schmidt. (Photo by UW-Eau Claire)

The governor and secretary, accompanied by Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, and Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, met with Material Science and Biomedical Engineering department Chair Doug Dunham, Professor Elizabeth Glogowski and their research students, Lauren Glenna, Maya Frodl, Marshall Apps and Drew Smith.

Glogowski, Apps and Smith are researching biocompatible foams for tumor ablation, but have faced limitations on the instrumentation they can fit in their lab space. Their research was published in peer-reviewed journals while Apps was a first-year student, and will lead to a joint patent with Mayo Clinic.

“We’ve made it work. This (lab) actually used to be a classroom and we had to strip it and renovate it and make a new lab,” Glogowski said. “Having the opportunity for a new space that’s cutting edge is really exciting for all of us, what we can do with the classroom and what we can do in research like in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and working with these wonderful students.”

Evers said the construction of this building and the collaboration between Mayo Clinic and UW-Eau Claire will lead to improved access to healthcare in rural communities.

“Rural healthcare is something we all struggle with because of the cost to ensure that people providing services are well prepared,” Evers said. “Having that opportunity to prepare the workforce of the future of Eau Claire is great because you’re closer to rural areas than other campuses.”

Evers also said this building offers the opportunity to prepare the workforce of the future. 

“That’s the exciting thing about it — (this building) is really important for the workforce today, but with all of the research and things going on in this building with collaboration, they’re also creating the workforce of tomorrow,” Evers said.

Schmidt said UW-Eau Claire and business partners, like Mayo Clinic, have been lobbying at the State Senate and State Assembly about the importance of the new Science and Health Sciences building.

Every legislator and member of the State Building Commission who has toured Phillips Hall, Schmidt said, has recognized the need for the construction of the new Science and Health Sciences Building.

“The building speaks for itself, but then when they talk to our faculty and students about the kind of research and how the building is used, that seals the deal,” Schmidt said. “I feel like we have a real opportunity to bring this home with the legislature this spring.”

UW-Eau Claire students and faculty will be attending the Chippewa Valley Rally — a lobbying event organized by the Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie Chambers of Commerce — to continue lobbying for legislature support.

“I’d love to see a student in most of the small groups that are going around the capital and they can personally share their story with the building,” Schmidt said. “Whether they’re a major in the sciences or not, every student has to take at least two classes in that building to get a degree from UW-Eau Claire.”

Schmidt said the construction of this building will create unique opportunities for UW-Eau Claire undergraduate students that are not available at other institutions focusing on graduate-level research.

“As you heard earlier, freshmen being on a joint patent with the Mayo Clinic and being in multiple peer-reviewed journal articles published as freshmen,” Schmidt said. “This gives students interested in the medical field an opportunity at Eau Claire that they can’t get anywhere else.”

More information about the Science and Health Sciences Building is available on UW-Eau Claire’s website.

Kasper can be reached at [email protected].


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the $109 million in funding only covered the demolition of Katherine Thomas and Putnam halls, and did not include the $13.7 million donation from Mayo Health Clinic System in the total funding cost.