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Clow Social Science Center has taken the first step toward much-needed modernization.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s state Building Commission unanimously approved a $50 million, four-university package of upgrade and maintenance projects that includes work on the 1966 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh academic building.

Still an academic hub on the UW Oshkosh campus, Clow has not seen too many updates in its 45-year life. It is home to the Colleges of Business Administration and the departments of Criminal Justice, History, Journalism, Political Science, Psychology and Urban Studies.

The capital projects ahead are right-timed. Some of the building’s more than 120,300 square feet will be vacated upon completion of Sage Hall this August – UW Oshkosh’s first entirely new academic building in 40 years. Sage will house the College of Business and other departments that currently call Clow home, freeing up space.

The state capital budget identifies Clow and academic buildings at UW Platteville, UW Stout and UW Superior as examples of a number throughout the UW System constructed before 1970 and “in need of major facility renovation to support continued programmatic needs. The level of deferred maintenance at UW facilities continues to outpace the state’s investment in those maintenance projects.”

“This is good news for UW Oshkosh,” Chancellor Richard Wells said. “We have a responsibility to maintain and upgrade our existing buildings and ensure they are efficient and relevant to the high-impact education and programs we deliver.”

The $50 million “Major Facilities Renewal Program” capital budget item that includes Clow’s and the three other universities’ academic building upgrades calls for maintenance and repair of exteriors, reconfiguration of interior space to meet program needs and new utility and mechanical systems. No new or additional space is slated for Clow.

UW Oshkosh Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Thomas Sonnleitner said the Clow project still requires approval from the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and both legislative houses before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

The UW System Board of Regents is expected to prioritize the projects and decide how best to apply the total $50 million toward the four campuses’ plans later this summer or fall, he said.

“Clow Social Science Center has been a cornerstone at our institution for decades,” Sonnleitner said. “Now we have an opportunity to reinvigorate the building so it continues to efficiently serve our students’ knowledge needs for decades to come. We will work closely with the legislature and Board of Regents to see this reinvestment in Clow and UW Oshkosh through.”

The state capital budget also details the $4.5 million remodeling of the former Oshkosh Area School District Lincoln Elementary School at Algoma Boulevard and Elmwood Avenue on campus. The project will be supported by campus program revenue funds.

Plans call for the 1964 school to become home of the UW Oshkosh’s Children’s Learning and Care Center, currently in the basement of Swart Hall. The remodeling will also make room for a centralized, UW Oshkosh’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement, currently scattered in five different locations throughout campus.

Read more:

State of Wisconsin Capital Budget 2011-13 Staff Recommendations