UI to receive $3 million for Lincoln Hall Renovation

By Frank Radosevich

At a press conference today on the eastern steps of Lincoln Hall, University President B. Joseph White announced that $3 million granted by the Gov. Rod Blagojevich would be used for the planning and design of historic Lincoln Hall’s eventual renovation.

Joined by Jan Grimes, Executive Director of the Illinois Capital Development Board, LAS Dean Sarah Mangelsdorf and State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, White welcomed the much needed funds.

“I’ve fallen in love with the beauty of Lincoln Hall but I also feel a tremendous passion and obligation for the University of Illinois to restore Lincoln Hall to its rightful condition and position here at the University,” White said.

Construction is slated to begin in spring of 2008 and finish in time for the 2010-2011 academic year. The nearly 100-year-old classroom building stands to receive new electrical, heating, air-conditioning and computer-network systems. Interior improvements and reconfigurations will also be made to existing classrooms and offices.

“Our plan is to restore the shell of the building and then turn the inside into space that meets the demands of a 21st-century university with 21st-century students.” White said.

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To date, the University has a total of $5 million for the project, thanks to $2 million released by the governor in 2004.

However, the total cost of renovating the building is marked at $55.8 million dollars, leaving the University still roughly $50 million short. Furthermore, the price is expected to grow in the coming years due to increasing construction costs.

Nonetheless, the University officials said they remained committed to its goal of an upgraded Lincoln Hall.

“We’re coming up on the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth,” Mangelsdorf said. “We must restore Lincoln Hall.”

White said he hopes the state will provide the bulk of the funds but this possibility remains tentative at best. Given the fact that the state legislature has cut vital university funding in past years, White conceded that University revenue and existing students fees will likely cover the costs.