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Making Pillsbury Hall a Home for English

News from English at the Minnesota State Legislature
December 11, 2015

Image of Pillsbury Hall

Image of Pillsbury Hall
The architect behind Pillsbury Hall's red clay roof and patterned sandstone was LeRoy S. Buffington—who also designed Minneapolis' Pillsbury "A" Mill

The Department of English presented its case for a new home in a renovated Pillsbury Hall to Minnesota legislators in the spring of 2016 and received encouragement from leaders in the House and Senate.

Included in the U's 2016 Capital Bonding Request to the Minnesota Legislature, the Pillsbury Hall Renovation request was presented in two bills: SF 2309, co-authored by Senator Kari Dziedzic and Senator LeRoy Stumpf; and HF 3144, co-authored by Representatives Dean Urdahl, Alice Hausman, Phyllis Kahn, Leon Lillie, and Cheryl Youakim.

Sketch of Pillsbury Hall attic classroom, by RRTL
Proposed Pillsbury Hall attic classroom & event space/RRTL

Chair Ellen Messer-Davidow and Professors Shirley Garner and Madelon Sprengnether, along with English Advisory Board member Paul Taylor, also met with Senators Terri Bonoff, Richard Cohen, and David Senjem and Representatives Hausman, Urdahl, Jennifer Schultz, and Paul Torkelson, as well as Policy Advisor Brennan Furness from Governor Mark Dayton's office.

President Kaler presented the University's capital request to the House and Senate Capital Investment and Higher Education Committees in March and spoke strongly in support of the Pillsbury Hall Renovation. After describing the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) and Academic and Student Experience Investments projects, he introduced Pillsbury as "my favorite building" on campus. He pointed out that the Pillsbury Hall project complemented both the HEAPR request, as an old building in need of renovation, and the Academic and Student Experience Investment request, as the renovated Pillsbury will serve thousands of students yearly.

The Legislature adjourned in late May without passing a bonding bill, leaving this unfinished business for 2017.

The Pillsbury Hall Renovation will provide the 6,000 plus students who take English classes annually with 21st-century classrooms in an iconic 1889 building—the second-oldest on campus, named in honor of John S. Pillsbury, the "father of the University." The renovation will allow an expansion of the service-learning, lab, and internship opportunities that channel students into post-graduation employment and civic life.

Please join us in making Pillsbury Hall a home for English.

  • Sign up for University Advocates and watch your email for calls to action. Representatives and senators from every corner of the state  need to hear the voices of their constituents—that is, you!
  • Support the Pillsbury Hall project financially. We will be raising part of the renovation funds through private donations. You can give securely online at
  • Read more about the history of this project on our website.