State Department of Administration says UW-Whitewater dorm never put on hold

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Andrea Anderson
Friday, August 29, 2014

MADISON--The state Department of Administration takes issue with claims made by Rep. Andy Jorgensen about a planned UW-Whitewater dorm.

Jorgensen, D-Milton, issued a news release Thursday stating he played a pivotal role in encouraging the Department of Administration to make the “stalled” 400-person dorm happen. 

The $28-million project was never put on hold and will go through the requests-for- proposal process this year, said Stephanie Marquis, Department of Administration spokeswoman.

Jorgensen claimed a conversation he had Wednesday with Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch resulted in getting the project back on track.

Several things made the project a priority before that conversation, Marquis said.

“Within the last week, Secretary Huebsch has spoken with new UW System President Cross, who told him these dorm projects are a priority ... ” Marquis said. “Secretary Huebsch simply shared this update with Rep. Jorgensen. The representative is not responsible for 'jumpstarting' these projects.”

Media outlets reported earlier this month that the project, along with a 350-bed dorm at UW-Eau Claire, was put on hold.

The Eau Claire residence hall architect and engineer have been selected, Marquis said.

The UW System has 27 projects as part of the 2013-15 biennial budget.

The Department of Administration prioritizes its projects and sets the Building Commissions agenda based on requests from state agencies and the UW System, Marquis said.

Jorgensen said he learned through Wednesday's conversation that Gov. Scott Walker told the Department of Administration to be “deliberate” with the budget for state building projects, and that lead to confusion and eliminating the dorm projects.

The Department of Administration says that's not accurate.

The state is being cautious about what money it spends after Walker asked the Department of Administration to reduce spending by $250 million.

“No projects got taken off the table. Nothing got cut, but what the governor said is 'as you move through the biennial budget, I need you to reduce your bonding by $250 million,'” Marquis said. “What that means is as we move forward with these projects, of course we're being deliberate with the choices we make about how we're spending our money, keeping things moving along.”

In response to the department's statements, Jorgensen said he and Huebsch had a "great conversation that lead to a meaningful step forward."

According to Jorgensen:

He spoke to Huebsch twice Wednesday. The first time Jorgensen said he stressed the importance of the project. During the the second, Huebsch told Jorgensen he realized an architect had not been hired for the project and would direct his staff to start that process.

The dorm will be located in what is now green space west of Fischer Hall and east of parking lots.

Construction of the residence hall had been scheduled to begin in November 2014 and be completed sometime in 2017. If things go smoothly, the construction now could start in November 2015 and finish in 2018, said Frank Bartlett, UW-W residence life  director.

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