“I think we are sending a strong message to the state that the University of Nebraska is growing for the future,” said Susan Fritz, NU’s interim president. “This kind of growth is possible because of investments not only by the university, but also by our partners in both the public and private sectors.”
NU also heard a report on the largest bond sale in NU system history — $563 million worth of bonds — and savings achieved by issuing those bonds in bulk.
Chris Kabourek, the NU system’s vice president for business and finance, said issuing the bonds in one large chunk saves some of the money spent on bond attorneys and underwriters when the projects are financed individually, the previous practice at NU.
Savings also will come from taking advantage of low interest rates by refinancing existing debt and by freeing up debt service reserve funds that were required for the project-by-project bond issues.
In all, Kabourek said, the change in bond strategies will produce $50 million that can be used for deferred maintenance and other projects.
The 10 construction and improvement projects approved Friday call for more than $483 million, the majority of which will be paid with donor money. Other sources of money include the state, trust funds and revenue bonds.
Among other projects, NU approved an intermediate design for a $17 million addition to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Mammel Hall; an early plan for UNO’s $35 million Durham Science Center renovation; and $76 million for renovation of the UNL Scott Engineering Center renovation and rebuilding of a related engineering facility called The Link.
The NU system includes universities in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney and Curtis.
The College of Engineering is seen as a key element in addressing Nebraska's workforce problems. Statewide reports decry Nebraska's shortage of engineers, information technology specialists and technically skilled workers.
From virtually no biomechanics program 20 years ago to a booming enterprise that will occupy two buildings as of next fall, Nick Stergiou and his staff have carried biomechanics beyond any expectations.