10/11/2004

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Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855

KU to seek approval for $40 million research center on west campus

LAWRENCE -- In the continuing effort to attract world-class scientists and provide critical space for specialized research in life sciences and other fields, the University of Kansas plans to construct a $40 million research center on its west campus.

Building the three-story, 106,000-square foot research center will be contingent on approval this month from the Kansas Board of Regents, the Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction and the State Finance Council, according to university officials.

The center, informally called the "Multidisciplinary Research Building" will be built southwest of Foley Hall and will be home to up to 180 researchers and faculty, said James Modig, director of KU's design and construction management office.

If approvals are granted, groundbreaking will occur in late October and construction should be completed by December 2005.

The state and the regents must approve construction of the center, but building it will not require the use of state funds. The center will be financed entirely through bonds issued by the Kansas Development Finance Authority and funded by the KU Center for Research, a nonprofit foundation designed to facilitate and increase research on the Lawrence campus.

"We are excited about this new center," said George Wilson, associate vice provost for research. "Our main goals are to attract top researchers to KU and stimulate new areas of endeavor through multidisciplinary interactions."

The center will have space for laboratories, workrooms and offices, meeting and conference rooms, and equipment and research support spaces. The center will be used by engineering, chemistry, biology, geology and other natural sciences disciplines. The center will feature "clean rooms" -- labs that meet certain environmental standards for conducting specialized research.

"KU's new research building will be a valuable asset, not just to the university and to Lawrence, but for the entire state," said KU Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway. "The center will allow us to house world-class faculty, whose research has the potential to expand the state's economy and create jobs."

University officials plan to meet with the State Finance Council Oct. 13 to seek approval to issue bonds. On Oct. 14, university officials will present their plans for the center at a hearing of the Joint Committee on State Building Construction. The final approval step is with the Board of Regents, which will meet Oct. 20 and 21.

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