Just before the start of a new school year, several Wisconsin lawmakers have gotten a close look at a UW-La Crosse building which has passed its prime. Members of the workforce development and higher education committees toured Cowley Hall on Monday, as well as the new Prairie Science Center.
Assemblyman Alex Joers of the Madison area attended UWL, so he knows the history of Cowley Hall. “Over a decade ago, I had my first college course just down this hallway,” said Joers, “and even then, you could tell that we needed a little bit of an upgrade here.”
La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow led the group of legislators on the tour of Cowley, which is nearly 60 years old. Gow wants to get many lawmakers behind the Prairie Springs project, in case the legislature tries to change its spending priorities.
Plans for a second new science building at UW-La Crosse have been stalled in Madison, ever since the first Prairie Springs Center opened five years ago.
Rep. Jodi Emerson of Eau Claire was surprised about how science labs at La Crosse have become separated from classrooms.
“The classrooms are actually in a different building, and where the staff is located is in a different building,” she told reporters. “It’s amazing, the facilities that are here in a good way,” Emerson said, but also pointed to lecture halls at Cowley that aren’t in fashion any more.
The proposed new $182 million science building has been turned down three times in five years by the state building commission, each time by a tie vote on party lines.