The University of North Dakota has broken ground on a new, $80 million Memorial Union on the Grand Forks campus.
The Grand Forks Herald reports that the project is being paid for primarily by students, who voted last year to move ahead with the new building. The approval will result in an increase in student fees. Earlier this year, interim President Joshua Wynne worked to lower those student fees by about 50%, as the university will now be chipping in with dollars each year.
The existing student union, constructed in 1951, was torn down this year; now early work to replace it has begun.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2021. The new Memorial Union, at 158,000 square feet, will be slightly larger than the previous building. It will have three stories of meeting and engagement spaces, up-to-date technology, student services and expanded dining and retail options as the cornerstone of campus.
Erik Hanson, former student body president, says the new Memorial Union is the culmination of students’ work for many years and many, many hours of planning and discussion.
Hanson says he is grateful for everyone who helped make the project possible, from administration and staff to the architects on the project. He says the toughest part of the effort was going to students to ask them to make an investment in a project they likely wouldn’t get to see come to fruition.
“It turned out not to be that bad,” he says. “Students saw years ago that, if they invested in a wellness center, students today would have a facility that was truly top notch and something that we all benefit from.”
VIDEO: Groundbreaking for new student union building at University of North Dakota;