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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Tearing down Lincoln Hall is beneficial, but overdue

(Northern Star File Photo)
Lincoln Hall sits in front of New Hall and will be torn down to be turned into a Health Informatics Technology Center. The funding for the project is proving to be more challenging in the aftermath COVID-19 and inflation. (Northern Star File Photo)

Retired in 2013, the Lincoln Hall dormitories have sat empty for a decade. After allowing the building to sit empty for years, NIU decided to tear down the structure and build a Health Informatics Technology Center on the property to bridge the gap between east and west campus. In an attempt to expand capacities for nursing majors, NIU is letting older buildings fall into disrepair. 

The last new academic building was added over 20 years ago. It is time for a new building.

In 2020, NIU received a grant from the state of Illinois for $77 million to build a new Health Technology Center on the property. The building is currently in the design stages. 

By taking its time to plan the building, NIU is making a smart decision to be certain of what it wants to do with the space, as opposed to hastily building and needing to make updates later. 

It was noted that the decision to create the Health Technology Center came from a national movement toward majors in the medical field, according to an update from the Finance, Audit, Compliance and Facilities Operations committee on Aug. 24.

The collaborative design process for the building includes students, faculty, and staff, among others.

By catering to the wants of NIU stakeholders, the construction of the building will be better suited to the needs of the students, staff and faculty. Letting NIU community members have a say in the topic shows that the university is keeping their students, faculty and staff in the forefront of its decisions, which creates a more collaborative atmosphere. 

This building, despite being designed to help the community, will probably end up primarily benefiting nursing majors. To renovate other buildings, NIU has recently allocated money for other buildings to renovate their spaces. This shows NIU’s commitment to a variety of majors and programs.

The cost of building is a hindrance for the project. When the grant was initially received, the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet hit, and the grant had not been adjusted for inflation. 

Unfortunately, the proposed size for the building decreased from 130,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet, reflecting potential funding issues. NIU may struggle to include all aspects of its ambitious project. 

Additionally, the project may cost anywhere between $10 million and $40 million more than what the grant provides, which may require additional fundraising outside of what the NIU Foundation can provide.

“There hasn’t been a deep history of fundraising in this college,” said Catherine Squires, vice president for University Advancement and president and CEO of the NIU Foundation, during the Finance, Audit, Compliance and Facilities Operations committee project update meeting.

The Finance, Audit, Compliance and Facilities Operations committee developed a plan to combat potential fundraising issues. The proactive decision was made to establish multiple fundraising committees for the project that are outside of the nursing alumni. Because NIU is letting many bodies fundraise including alumni, individual programs, and others. By getting more people involved, they are continuing to make the project a collaborative effort. This is a smart decision because it allows all of campus to get involved, rather than just nursing majors. 

The committee noted that the purpose of the building is to create a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary education for a host of majors, including nursing and physical therapy, while providing better technology to NIU students and the DeKalb community. 

While there are significant issues with the project, the university is making its best effort to provide a collaborative space for students of many majors. 

It is about time the university moves forward with plans to occupy what was Lincoln Hall. 

Creating a Health Informatics Technology Center will add new resources for students and the community.

While this new building will be a benefit, the campus has not added academic buildings to the campus in the 20 years. A new building is past due, and this is a big step to upgrade campus technology and facilities. 

While it will benefit the NIU community, if building an alternate structure on the Lincoln Hall property had been a larger priority, the university would have done something with the space sooner.

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