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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s first new free-standing academic building since 1971 received unanimous approval from the State Building Commission (SBC), keeping the building on schedule for late summer construction.

On Jan. 26, the SBC, chaired by Gov. Jim Doyle, fully endorsed UW Oshkosh’s academic center, one of the largest single projects in the history of northeastern Wisconsin. Conservative estimates predict the project will generate well over 2,000 construction-related jobs.

“We are thankful for the support of Gov. Doyle and members of the SBC, especially newly appointed Colleges and Universities Committee Chair Rep. Gordon Hintz and Rep. Dean Kaufert, for supporting the University, its 12,700 current students and the tens of thousands of future students who will benefit from this long-awaited teaching and learning facility,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells. “Modern facilities are an essential component to meet Wisconsin’s growing demand for well-educated professionals and business leaders.”

The plan for the 175,000-square-foot academic center — nearly twice the size of the University’s new Student Recreation and Wellness Center — was approved by the UW Board of Regents in December. The $54-million funding package provides $40 million from the state to fund construction of the building as well as $6.2 million for the relocation of and site preparation for the facilities management department, currently located on the future site of the building, along the Fox River.

An additional $8 million is being raised from private donors via the pride.purpose.promise campaign — the first comprehensive capital campaign in the University’s history.

“The SBC’s unanimous approval is a major milestone in the building process after years of planning,” Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Tom Sonnleitner said. “We remain on track to solicit bids for the construction project in June, with groundbreaking scheduled for September.”

The new academic center will be built to gold LEED standards, making it the most environmentally friendly and efficient building of its kind in the state of Wisconsin. It is slated to open in 2011.

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