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Montana University System Sets Funding Goals
Regents say Missoula College project is the top priority for the board in long-range plan
MISSOULA — Officials with the Montana University System plan to ask state lawmakers to approve money to pay for building projects, inflationary costs over the next two fiscal years and an increase in employee pay.

The Missoulian reports that the Montana University System has identified its priorities heading into the 2013 legislative session that the group says are needed to meet growth and maintain the state's standard of higher education.

Kevin McRae, associate commissioner with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, said the Montana University System is eyeing legislative approval for building projects in Missoula, Billings, Havre and Bozeman.

The Montana Board of Regents has improved all the projects that are included in the long-range building plan and include a new Missoula College and a science building at Montana State University-Billings.

"The Missoula College project is the top priority for the board in our long-range plan," McRae said. "There are a number of projects that have been identified in the governor's budget."

The University of Montana is seeking $47 million for Missoula College, $9.3 million for the Gilkey Executive Education Center, and $2.5 million for an athlete academic center.

UM-Western is asking for $4.5 million for renovation of Main Hall. Another $10 million is being sought for an addition to the natural resources research center at Montana Tech of UM.

Montana State University is requesting $20 million for renovations to Romney Hall and $25 million for Jabs Hall.

At MSU-Billings, $15 million is needed for an addition to the science and instructional tech building. MSU-Northern wants $7.9 million for an automotive technology center.

The projects would be paid for through appropriations, bonging and other methods.

Education officials are also hoping to be able to freeze tuition through 2015.

"We're sensing that it is, and should be, a bipartisan interest to keep college tuition affordable and level," McRae said. "If there are state resources to invest toward that need, we feel it's in the common and bipartisan interest of Montana to do so."
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