UWS builds for the futureThe story behind the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s new academic building goes back to 1932, when Sadie Ann Bashara earned a degree in education.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The story behind the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s new academic building goes back to 1932, when Sadie Ann Bashara earned a degree in education.
The Ironwood, Mich.-native instilled in her children the importance of higher education, said her son, Jim Swenson. He and his wife Sue are benefactors of the $32 million project to construct the first new academic building on campus in 30 years. The couple contributed $5 million to the university in support of the project.
They set the “gold standard in giving,” said Wisconsin Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar during a groundbreaking ceremony on campus Friday morning.
Jim and Sue Swenson joined Gov. Jim Doyle, U.S. Congressman Dave Obey, D-Wausau, Jauch and Wisconsin Rep. Nick Milroy, D-Superior, and university officials to break ground on the $32 million academic building at UWS.
Swenson said while not all of his siblings attended college, about 100 members of the Bashara and Swenson families earned their degrees at UWS, making the decision about where to give an easy one. Midway through his senior year, Jim Swenson said he learned about the importance of giving back.
“The person who planted that seed more than anyone was Robert Banks, who was president of the First National Bank in Superior,” Swenson said. “Early on in my freshman year I was talking to him, and he said ‘Jim, if you ever need further help, come and see me.’” Swenson said midway through his senior year, he needed $900 and Banks provided the loan and a lesson: “He said if you have the opportunity later in life, help somebody else. Those were the magic words.”
The project foundered in December, when fundraising goals for the project fell short, but Doyle scrubbed the budget to find an additional $3.5 million in state’s capital budget for the project. The money comes from savings in other UW System projects completed over the last two years.
While other projects in the UW System were also foundering because of the downturn in the economy, the governor said he had two reasons for making the project at UWS a priority — past efforts to cut the project and its importance to the campus, and to get projects that are ready to go moving ahead to put people to work.
“It was important to this really important campus,” Doyle said.
Bids are due in early May for the 144,000 square foot building to be constructed on the northwest corner of the campus near Weeks Avenue and North 17th Street. Plans for the building include 21 modern classrooms and labs with the latest learning technology and flexible layouts. Offices for eight academic departments and faculty will put professors closer to their classrooms and allow them to spend more time working with students. The building plan calls for construction to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
The new student center currently under construction on campus is also being built to LEED standards. The UWS library is also undergoing a remodel.
“This is going to be one fabulous facility for the university,” Swenson said of the new academic building.
“It’s fantastic that the Swensons were able to give up a lot of time and energy and contributions to make this building possible, said Student Body President Logan Campa, who plans to be at the university when the building is complete two years from now. “I think it will bring something new and refreshing to our campus ... It’s going to be a fantastic place for students.”