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U-M Wants State To Pay For Majority Of $120M Dental School Overhaul

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ANN ARBOR (AP) - The University of Michigan wants to give its dental school a $120 million renovation and is asking the state to pay for 75 percent of the project.

The university said in a request to the state that its School of Dentistry is outdated and its cramped labs and limited space cannot adequately accommodate modern research and patient care, The Ann Arbor News reported.

The Ann Arbor school wants to renovate 170,000 square feet of the school and add 50,000 square feet of space to the building. Officials are asking the state to pay for $90 million of the expected cost of the renovation as part of its capital outlay program.

“The renovation of the dentistry building is at the top of our list of needs,” university President Mary Sue Coleman said during a meeting with faculty leaders on Monday. “It’s an outdated building.”

The dental school was built in 1971, and officials said it’s a product of a time when many patients arrived by bus and future research and care needs weren’t foreseen. The dental school is one of two in Michigan, and the only such public institution.

There are more than 130,000 patient visits a year at the facility, according to recent figures, and many Michigan dentists trained at the school.

Since 1992, the state has directed nearly $2.09 billion in capital outlay funding to universities, including $210 million to the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus to fund eight projects. Michigan State University got the most funding during that time, $247.5 million.

In other projects, the University of Michigan said it plans to put $5.3 million into renovations for its North Campus student union, Pierpont Commons. The investment is part of a multi-year, $173 million plan to upgrade the school’s unions and gyms.

That six-building project is funded through a new $65 student fee levied each academic term for the next 30 years, a 23 percent increase in the price of student football tickets and a yearly $1 million allotment from the university’s transportation arm.

Pierpont Commons and other planned renovation projects are coming before the Board of Regents on Thursday.

The board will consider approving a $1.7 million renovation to the Law School’s legal research library and a $3 million improvement to the Hatcher Graduate Library. It also will look at renovation plans for the Ford Nuclear Reactor building, storage for museum collections and the $23.3 million renovation and expansion of the School of Music, Theater and Dance’s main building.

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