University of Wisconsin-River Falls SciTech sketch

This sketch shows where the proposed Science and Technology Innovation Center would sit on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus. Image courtesy of UWRF

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ proposed Science and Technology Innovation Center sits atop the UW System funding list. Primarily, because an investment will address outdated science facilities and meet industry demand in Wisconsin’s high growth industries, the college notes.

UWRF isn’t idly waiting for state funding, however, but actively engaging other support. 

Alumni Jeff and Kristi Cernohous got the message. They recently announced a $1 million challenge gift to help garner private funds that will complement the state investment in the Science and Technology Innovation Center.

“We believe that it will create a more efficient strategy to help students determine what they really want to do with their life in a collegiate setting. We believe that this will be extremely impactful to them and to the future competitiveness of Wisconsin businesses,” Jeff said.

Jennifer Theisen, the director of human resources at DiaSorin Inc. stated, “the value that the Science and Technology Innovation Center brings during this crucial time is the ability to train and hire talent within the fields of biology, chemistry and biotechnology. UWRF provides the foundation and elements for us to provide the critical training for today’s workforce to be competitive in the market and remain in the region.”

The facility will benefit the entire campus, serving students from a wide range of majors, and has been endorsed by the UWRF Student Government Association. A resolution passed unanimously by this body cites, “approximately 1,700 UW-River Falls students take science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses every year that could be taught in one central location.” The student government also pointed out that the facility — which will house biology, chemistry, physics and psychological sciences — will not serve only science majors: 

“SciTech supports additional fields at UW-River Falls, specifically agricultural sciences and preparation of K-12 science educators.”

Full construction funding for the SciTech project is included in the $1.2 billion UW System capital budget request put forth by President Tommy Thompson for the 2021-23 biennium. At a cost of $116.7 million, SciTech is ranked highest of the handful of new STEM facility construction funding requests on the list. 

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