Funds released for Faraday II

By Eric Krol

Gov. Jim Edgar visited NIU Monday to announce the release of $21 million in state funds for the construction of a new science building.

Almost two years after NIU held a groundbreaking ceremony, Edgar released the money to build the long-awaited Faraday II project which will give NIU’s chemistry and physics department a new home.

“The project will pay back dividends in the future,” Edgar said. “(Training scientists) is important to the future of Illinois and the nation.”

Edgar released the money from the state’s bond revenue pool after freezing all capital development projects his first month in office last January. Edgar said the state’s bond indebtedness level is at “a safe point.”

“Moreover, the construction funding will serve as an important short-term boost to the region’s economy,” Edgar said. The building will provide 250 new jobs during the two years of construction, he added.

Local officials said they are pleased with Edgar’s announcement. NIU President John La Tourette said the new building will allow NIU to improve instruction at all levels.

La Tourette said the building will increase NIU’s association with Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory, continue to lay the foundation for a doctoral program in physics and increase NIU’s association with business and industry along the Interstate-88 corridor.

“This project will provide additional educational opportunity,” said Rep. Brad Burzynski, R-Sycamore. “We hope to spur some development in the area.”

Board of Regents Chairman Brewster Parker said, “I’m very pleased Edgar released the money. I think he knew the importance of a science project.”

Eddie Williams, NIU vice president of Finance and Planning, said he hopes to begin construction by April.

He said NIU had bids out on the project last year but had to

pull them back in when Edgar froze the funds. However, Williams said bids will be issued within 60 days and he hopes construction will be completed by early 1994.

The new building will contain 115,000 square feet and add 39 laboratories and 45 offices.

Faraday II will be the first state-built structure at NIU since Founders Memorial Library went up in 1973. The state will also provide $6.4 million for new lab equipment.

Edgar also commented on a variety of subjects, including a bill which would abolish NIU’s governing board, the Regents. “I don’t think anyone should take that solely as an election year gimmick,” Edgar said. “It is time for us to take a long, hard look at the way we do business in this state.”

The bill is being sponsored by Burzynski, who is running for the newly-created senate seat. La Tourette had earlier said the issue comes up “whenever there is a political campaign.”

Edgar also said higher education can expect next year to be a tight one. “I’ll set the priorities in April and we’ll know by the end of June,” he said.