MU research space increases

An additional 717,816 square feet are estimated to be added to campus during fiscal year 2006.

Although the amount of academic research space under construction on university campuses across the nation is at an all-time high, federal funding for these projects is declining steadily, according to a report published by the National Science Board.

The findings are meant to encourage Congress to target more funding for science education to compete with scientific growth of other nations, especially China, according to the report.

MU added 703,022 square feet to campus during the 2005 fiscal year, excluding the hospital areas, according to Joey Riley, assistant director of Space Planning and Management. An additional 717,816 square feet are estimated to be added to campus during fiscal year 2006.

From 1991 to 2003, the amount of research space paid for by the federal government dropped from 16 percent to 5 percent, according to the report.

"The university received 30 million of the approximately 60 million dollars it took to build the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center from federal funding," MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

Governor Matt Blunt also has pledged his support for new research space at MU. He plans to fund the space with money from the partial sale of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

Blunt's plan faces some resistance from Missouri House Republicans, who proposed a plan that would funnel less of the sale's proceeds into improving campus research space and instead fund scholarships.

MU projects including a new Plant Sciences Research Center, Health Sciences Research Center and a Life Sciences Business Incubation Center all would benefit from the sale.

The Life Sciences Business Incubation Center would add 33,000 square feet of research space to the MU campus.

"It is not a matter of space but of function," Basi said. "The goal of this project is to meet the challenge of applying scientists' work to the real world."

Federal funding will cover $2.5 million of the incubator's cost, which is expected to be an estimated $8.7 million.

Although MU has made considerable advances in the past 10 years, it is behind on remodeling existing research space, said Mike Chippendale, the interim director of the Life Sciences Center said. Remolding old research facilities is the highest priority in combination with the creation of new research space.

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