The Office of Governor Tim Walz has released its higher education proposal for the 2020 Legislative session. The proposal includes $142.5 million for asset preservation and $121.2 million for capital bonding projects at the colleges and universities of Minnesota State.

Among the recommended capital bonding projects is phase one of the Winona State University CICEL project. CICEL, which stands for the Center for Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Engagement and Learning, aims to provide flexible classroom and lab spaces that support active and creative learning, innovation, and experimentation.

CICEL will be the first Net Zero Energy (NZE) and carbon neutral building in the Minnesota State system. The project calls for the demolition of two older buildings, Watkins and Gildemeister Halls (circa 1964), and the construction of a new, 73,000-square-foot building. In addition to eliminating $9.2 million in deferred maintenance costs, the project is intended to reduce overall operating costs due to its sustainability features.

CICEL is envisioned as a campus center for academic collaboration and partnerships with local and regional businesses and organizations. The building will feature a modular design that is intended to encourage collaborative learning and problem solving across all disciplines and community partners.

Winona State President Scott R. Olson expressed gratitude and enthusiasm for the project.

“We are very pleased to see CICEL included in the governor’s bonding proposal,” said Olson. “It is our hope that this groundbreaking new facility will foster collaborative experiences and spark meaningful interactions. CICEL will be home to the Departments of Computer Science, Math and Statistics, and Art and Design, all of which interact with each other, and with other programs on campus, in ways that we believe empower students to build Minnesota’s future. By physically breaking down the barriers between different disciplines, we can support creative problem solving and encourage students to share their diverse strengths and perspectives—across the campus and the community! We thank Gov. Walz for his support.”

The initial funding request of $3.2 million will support the design and planning phase of the CICEL project. The second phase of the project is estimated at $43.4 million for construction costs. If the CICEL project is fully funded by the Minnesota Legislature, the target completion date would be fall 2024.

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About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive, regional public university with over 7,600 students on campuses in Winona and Rochester. Around half of WSU students are first-generation, meaning neither parent has a four-year bachelor’s degree. The oldest member of the Minnesota State system, WSU offers more than 80 undergraduate, pre-professional, licensure, graduate and doctorate programs in five colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing & Health Sciences, and Science & Engineering.

Winona State is ranked as the second public institution in Minnesota by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges,” has been named among the “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review for 16 years in a row, and has been featured as one of America’s 100 Best College Buys for quality and value for 24 consecutive years. The University generates $447.9 million in economic impact for the region per year. The University’s mission is to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve: a community of learners improving our world. For more information, visit