State releases initial funds for new facilities, DuSable improvements on hold

By Kyle Mathas

DeKALB — The state has begun to release funds for NIU’s capital budget, following an announcement from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The state has released more than $22 million for NIU to move forward on building two new facilities in its capital budget, according to an email from President Lisa Freeman.

$7.7 million will be used to launch planning and design efforts for a Health Informatics building.

“The goal for this facility is to bring together our health professions programs with intellectual resources from across campus to promote collaboration and innovation,” Freeman said in the email. 

Currently, health professionals on campus are separated across nine areas. Later this week, NIU will launch a campus-wide survey to get feedback that will inform decisions about where the building will be located, according to the email.

Another facility NIU will build is the Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability, or NICCS. The state released $15 million for the project, which will go towards design costs.

“This will be the ‘hub’ of the Illinois Innovation Network, where our faculty and students will engage in research and innovation focused on food systems, water resources and environmental change, and use the research to inform law and policy,” the email reads. 

The 30,000-square-foot NICCS facility will be constructed on the university’s west campus, in an area north of the NIU Convocation Center, according to a Wednesday news release from NIU. 

Early projections call for construction to begin in 2021 with the facility being completed in 2023. 

Capital budget

NIU’s capital budget calls for $50 million from the state for current and future facility improvements over the next several years.

The state has promised to invest over $50 million dollars to the facilities of NIU to “address the structural integrity and improve our academic spaces, notably the DuSable Complex,” the email reads, but the funds for these projects are not yet released.

At the moment, NIU is working with the state to understand when the funds will be provided. 

In the DuSable complex, technology improvements in the most frequently used classrooms and revitalized student gathering spaces will be part of the spending.

NIU will begin to “host a series of planning conversations to seek input from campus” for their campus master plan, the email reads.

NIU administration could not be reached for comment prior to publication of this story. This is an ongoing story and the Northern Star will update as more information becomes available.