Home Investment U of M celebrates investments in world-class undergraduate chemistry facility

U of M celebrates investments in world-class undergraduate chemistry facility

by Janessa Lee

The University of Minnesota and state officials are set to celebrate the launch of the Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories project, signaling a major transformation of the 95-year-old Fraser Hall on the University’s Twin Cities campus. By renovating and modernizing the outdated teaching and support spaces for general and organic chemistry, this project aims to enhance the chemistry education of more than 5,000 undergraduate students each semester and ultimately contribute to Minnesota’s workforce.

University of Minnesota Interim President Jeff Ettinger expressed his appreciation for the state leaders who recognize the value of investing in the university. He acknowledged that such investments not only benefit Minnesota students but also play a crucial role in shaping the future workforce and economy of the state. The project is not only an opportunity to provide immediate employment for Minnesota companies and crews but will also create a lasting impact by producing the next generation of chemists, physicians, nurses, teachers, and other professionals.

The celebration event will take place with early construction work as a backdrop, featuring the participation of Interim President Ettinger, state officials, campus leaders, faculty, and students. Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, Senate Capital Investment Committee Chair Sandy Pappas, Representative Mohamud Noor, College of Science and Engineering Dean Andrew Alleyne, U of M student Elise Toussaint, and others will speak, emphasizing the significance of state investment in the university’s infrastructure and the educational opportunities facilitated by this project.

Elise Toussaint, a current U of M medical student, shared her personal experience, highlighting the crucial role that chemistry courses and teaching assistants played in her academic journey. She emphasized the importance of providing high-quality learning spaces that contribute to student success and inspire them to make new discoveries and connections with peers and mentors. These state-of-the-art facilities will reflect the University of Minnesota’s world-class research and teaching standards.

Upon completion, the updated facility will feature 18 active learning labs, spaces for tutoring and informal student collaboration, professional offices, general purpose classrooms, a new nuclear magnetic resonance area, and loading, storage, and operational support spaces. The renovation work will also address the outdated mechanical, electrical, and life safety systems. The project will also allow for more efficient utilization of teaching, research, and office spaces by improving and consolidating the existing facilities in Smith and Kolthoff Halls.

The plans for Fraser Hall encompass a complete reimagination of the building, occupying over 117,000 square feet that serve as a fundamental part of the university’s undergraduate curriculum. The labs and collaborative learning spaces will benefit students from a wide range of majors, with approximately one-third of all Twin Cities students taking chemistry and related courses in this building.

The project’s realization became possible through a legislative investment in project design in 2020, followed by a $92.6 million capital funding allocation in 2023. The University of Minnesota will supplement the remaining funds for the $144.7 million project through private philanthropy and other investments. The two-year project timeline anticipates the complete opening of the Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories for fall 2025 classes.

For more information and project updates, including a live webcam showcasing the construction progress, visit the official Project Website. Additionally, project photos can be downloaded from this Google Drive link.

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