Area legislators tour NSU campus facilities

Legislators and administrators standing by the NSU campus pillars

Northern State University kicked off fall semester by inviting area legislators to campus for an appreciation luncheon and tour of facilities both old and new.

The Aug. 26 visit began with a luncheon in the Kessler’s Champions Club in the new Regional Sports Complex, with welcome greetings by NSU President Neal Schnoor and NSU Foundation President and CEO Zach Flakus.

They then led legislators on a tour of the sports complex, including the new Barnett Center Addition locker rooms, Dacotah Bank Stadium and Koehler Hall of Fame Softball Field. Comments from the legislators after the tour were positive.

“It was awesome,” said Rep. Carl Perry.

Perry, of Aberdeen, is a Northern alum. So is Sen. Bryan Breitling of Miller.

“The stadium is impressive,” Breitling said, adding, “Having a football stadium on campus inspires student pride.”

Breitling said so much has been invested in the campus the last several years.

“It’s very impressive to see the new buildings,” he said. “It’s an attractive campus.”

Fellow Northern alum Sen. Brock Greenfield of Clark was also impressed with the sports complex.

“I’m just in awe of the structure, the foresight that went into it,” he said. “It’s going to be the crown jewel of campus and northeastern South Dakota.”

Along with showcasing a new facility, the tour also featured one of Northern’s older buildings, Lincoln Hall, home of the School of Business. The university hopes to move forward with a proposed project that would result in a new, modern business facility and provide expanded classroom and lab space for the SDSU Accelerated Nursing Program, which is already housed on campus.

The proposed $29.5 million Lincoln Hall project is one of the South Dakota Board of Regents’ top capital funding priorities for the next legislative session. The BOR included the project on its list of recommended projects to the Governor for her consideration.

During the tour, President Schnoor explained some of the issues Northern has with the aging hall, including numerous load-bearing pillars that make it difficult to refurbish.

“They’d never build a building like this today, with all these pillars in the middle,” noted Rep. Charlie Hoffman of Eureka, also a Northern alum, during the tour. “Especially for education.”

Greenfield pointed out that Lincoln Hall was old and antiquated when he was a student at Northern 25 years ago.

“I’d love to see us improve the functionality of any building on campus that needs to be addressed; this is certainly one of them,” he said. “Doing something where we can collaborate with the SDSU Nursing program, that makes a lot of sense.”

Greenfield added, “I understand wanting to preserve history, but I also recognize that in certain instances, that’s cost prohibitive and self-defeating. So if they determine that’s not doable, I don’t want to be the guy standing in their way. I want to say: ‘You guys do what’s best for Northern.’ They’re looking at removing some of the square footage of the physical structures on campus, and I would just say: ‘Whatever you need to do in order to make this element of the campus state of the art, needs to be done, needs to be approached in that fashion.”