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$1M OK'd for New Building Design

By From the Lowell Sun

By Matt Murphy

BOSTON -- A new academic building on UMass Lowell's South Campus made the cut after Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday announced a scaled-back capital spending plan over the next five years.

UMass Lowell will receive $1 million in state funding this fiscal year for preliminary planning and design of a new academic building that is expected to cost about $40 million.

The building will be the first new academic building on campus in more than 30 years. The 63,000-square-foot space will hold new classrooms and office space for the departments of Criminal Justice, Nursing and Psychology.

"Our students -- present and future -- and their parents will benefit from Gov. Patrick's commitment to a world-class UMass, particularly in these tough economic times," UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said in a statement.

Patrick yesterday laid out the priorities of his new five-year capital investment plan, highlighting targeted investments in transportation, education, public safety, housing and environmental infrastructure.

The plan, however, cut back significantly on state borrowing as Patrick looks to guide the state through the economic recession without incurring too much debt that the state might struggle to repay.

The Patrick administration reduced the $1.5 billion state bonding cap for fiscal 2010 by $226 million, and the state now plans to borrow $1.1 billion less for capital projects over the next five years than it had previously anticipated.

In addition to the new academic building, Patrick said the state would continue to fund the agreed-upon share of the proposed Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center at UMass Lowell at a total cost to the state of $35 million.

"I want to thank the Patrick-Murray Administration for its commitment to and investment in our public higher-education system and the UMass Lowell campus in particular," said Sen. Steve Panagiotakos, D-Lowell. "This authorization will allow the campus to construct its first academic building in over three decades, advancing the campus goal of providing a world-class education to our citizenry."