Thompson Breaks Bricks to Launch UWEC Campus Project
ex-gov makes final visit to UWEC as UW System leader
V1 Staff |
Just a couple of days before he stepped down from his two-year stint as UW System president, Tommy Thompson proved that he could still swing a sledgehammer.
Thompson – the former longtime Republican governor turned presidential cabinet secretary turned university system chief — paid a parting visit to the UW-Eau Claire campus on March 16 to help ceremonially launch a project to build a planned Science and Health Sciences Building. The $256 million project is meant to replace Phillips Hall, which will turn 60 next year.
Thompson joined UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt and Dr. Richard Helmers, regional vice president for Mayo Clinic Health System, in attacking the corner of Putnam Hall with sledgehammers for the cameras. Putnam and Katherine Thomas residence halls will be demolished later this year to make way for the new science building.
While some of the project’s costs have been approved by the state Legislature and other funding will come through a partnership with Mayo Clinic, $147 million in state funding is still pending. According to the Leader-Telegram, the latter sum may be considered as part of the 2023-25 state budget.
Schmidt praised Thompson for his ongoing support for the project, and announced that the future building’s first floor commons will be dubbed the Tommy Thompson Riverview Commons.
“The University of Wisconsin System, next to our people, is the greatest asset we have,” Thompson declared. “We are not an expenditure. We are an investment in the future. We are a problem-solver for the state of Wisconsin. We are the economic engine that is going to make it all happen.”