Leaving a legacy

UND students vote to fund new Memorial Union on campus as early as 2021

It’s part of a planned campus renaissance. The University is also working with alumni, private donors and other funding sources to build a new College of Business & Public Administration, renovate the Chester Fritz Library and Stone House, and add to the High Performance Center.

On Nov. 20, UND students approved a student fee increase to fund construction and maintenance of a new Memorial Union, addressing mounting deferred maintenance costs associated with the current structure. Completion of the new union is slated for as early as 2021.

UND students voted to leave a legacy for future students on Tuesday.

They voted 54 to 46 percent to increase their student fees and build a new Memorial Union. A total of 2,439 students took part in the election, more than in the vote for the mascot.

Planning for the new building, which will cost about $80 million, begins soon. It is expected to be completed in Spring 2021, pending approval by the State Board of Higher Education and the North Dakota State Legislature.

The new, 158,000 square-foot, three-story Memorial Union will include study and meeting spaces with up-to-date technology, expanded dining and retail options, indoor/outdoor gathering spaces, a rooftop terrace, and more.

It will be the cornerstone of campus, said student leaders.

“The new Union will have a significant impact on student life,” said Erik Hanson, student body president. “It will set the standard for the next generation on campus.”

The new, 158,000 square-foot, three-story Memorial Union will include study and meeting spaces with up-to-date technology, expanded dining and retail options, indoor/outdoor gathering spaces, a rooftop terrace, and more.

The new, 158,000 square-foot, three-story Memorial Union will include study and meeting spaces with up-to-date technology, expanded dining and retail options, indoor/outdoor gathering spaces, a rooftop terrace, and more.

This student funded renewal is part of a planned campus renaissance involving remodels and new construction funded by alumni, public private partnerships (P3) and the state, and private donors. The privately funded replacement of the steam plant will allow removing the old plant, beautifying the University’s quad while enhancing campus sustainability. The University will solicit proposals for more P3’s along University Avenue next spring.

Donor funded renovations of the Chester Fritz Library and Stone House are about to commence.

The University is actively fundraising for a new College of Business & Public Administration building, as well as an addition to the High Performance Center.

“I am convinced that the student vote on a new Memorial Union will help motivate alumni to step forward to help us fund these campus priorities,” said UND President Mark Kennedy.

UND students may vote this year whether to support a multi-million dollar Memorial Union renovation/addition with student fees. The proposed design would incorporate a bright atrium connecting Memorial Union with McCannel Hall. Rendering courtesy of WTW Architects.

The new Memorial Union will be the cornerstone of campus, said student leaders.

Investing in the future

“Students voted to leave a legacy,” said Hanson. “The students before us invested in the Wellness Center, knowing that many of them would never use it. Now we are making an investment in our alma mater and leaving an impact on UND for years to come. This will benefit the next generation of students.”

“We are thrilled about the passing of the Memorial Union vote,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “This was a strong turnout with a clear result. The new space will transform our campus and is an example of our students’ commitment to creating community among our current and future generations of students. This is an exciting time for UND.”

Student fees will increase by $14 per credit hour, capped at 12 credits per semester, beginning with the Spring 2020 semester. The fee will increase by 2 percent each year from 2020 to 2059.

Hanson said that keeping the campus community updated on plans and progress will be a priority, and they will continue to seek student input.

“We hope students will be on the lookout for opportunities to be involved in the process,” said Hanson. “We want to thank students for being engaged in the process and for making their voices heard.”

Interior of New Memorial Union

Architectural rendering of the new Memorial Union.

The current building, which was built in three phases beginning in 1951 with additions in 1964 and 1983, needs a new roof, along with fire safety, heating, plumbing, electrical, and accessibility updates, totaling $40 million. It will be razed and the new building will replace it. Memorial Union staff will soon begin communicating with departments who have scheduled events in the current building.

Students began talking about the need for a new Memorial Union about five years ago, said Hanson, who was part of those talks.

The initial concepts ranged between $60 million and $156 million, and Student Government leaders sought new estimates.

“Students decided to reduce costs by going forward with an $80 million version,” Hanson said. “We are hoping to create efficiencies by leveraging public-private partnerships, among other investments, to increase access to student services.” UND will contribute about 20 percent of the cost of operating and supporting the new Union.

President Kennedy applauded the leadership shown by student leaders as well as the forward looking view embraced by the students supporting the new Memorial Union.

“What a wonderful demonstration of Leaders in Action,” Kennedy said.