CMU classroom building makes list, funds not guaranteed

A proposed academic classroom building at Colorado Mesa University ranked seventh among 21 projects on a priority list the Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved Thursday.

The commission ranked projects based on the age of the request, the project’s ranking from last year if applicable, the project’s impact on education, institutional need and student enrollment growth, among other criteria. The panel will send the list to the Legislature’s Capital Development Committee.

The Capital Development Committee will evaluate the list for potential 2013-14 funding but has no obligation to follow the commission’s suggestions. Last year, the committee did not fund any higher education capital projects but did fund some maintenance projects.

Colorado Mesa spokeswoman Dana Nunn said the university is happy to make it into the priority list but is not counting on state funding for the project, considering last year’s lack of state funding for new capital projects. The university is still requesting $7 million from the city of Grand Junction and $3 million from Mesa County and planning to fund the remaining $7 million needed for the project, Nunn said.

Although current estimates for the project list the cost as $17 million, the commission’s priority list shows an original estimate of $19.79 million, with a request for all but $10 million of that amount from the state for the classroom building. The building would likely be built next to an existing academic classroom building opened in 2008 on Elm Avenue. Enrollment throughout the Colorado Mesa system, which includes campuses in Grand Junction and Montrose and Western Colorado Community College, climbed above 9,000 for the first time this year.

The commission also approved an increase in Colorado Mesa’s academic standards during Tuesday’s meeting in Denver. The university is set to increase its standards from “moderately selective” to “selective” beginning next fall. Legislation signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 21 made the new status official and Colorado Mesa’s Board of Trustees approved new standards the same day that require an entering CMU student to have an admission index score (based on ACT score and grade point average) at or above 92 beginning in 2013-14.

Another CMU project, a $26 million expansion of Tomlinson Library, ranks 17th on the commission’s priority list. The 21 projects on the list together request $267.26 million in state funding.


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