Bemidji State University Unveils New Hagg-Sauer Hall with a Ceremonial Ribbon-Cutting

Dr. Harold T. Hagg

Dr. Harold T. Hagg

Dr. Harold T. Hagg was part of the Bemidji State faculty from 1936-1976 during which time he conducted immense research on northern Minnesota, contributing to many publications and wrote a children’s book. Dr. Hagg gave Dr. Art Lee the idea of writing a book documenting the history of Bemidji State University; “University in the Pines” was published in 1994. Hagg shared an office with A.C. Clark for 25 years and it is said that he would rely on Clark to give him his course schedule each year.

Dr. Philip R. Sauer

Dr. Philip R. Sauer

Dr. Philip R. Sauer joined the Bemidji State Faculty in 1937 and retired in 1975. He joined as a professor of English and enjoyed a “temporary” 25-year position as a professor of German when the only foreign language instructor left. Native to Winona, Minn. Sauer attended Northwestern University and earned his masters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his doctorate from the University of Freiburg, Germany. During his time at Bemidji State, Sauer wrote a number of articles and biographies, including that of his grandfather, and retired across the street from the A.C. Clark Library.

On a snowy November afternoon, Bemidji State University gathered virtually to celebrate the newly constructed Hagg-Sauer Hall, the first new building on campus since the American Indian Resource Center in 2001.

The nearly 50-year-old Hagg-Sauer was retired in April 2019 and construction of a 27,000 square-foot building began shortly after. Originally built in 1970, the lakeside hall was dedicated to best friends Dr. Harold T. Hagg and Dr. Philip R. Sauer. The pair served as Bemidji State University department chairs and were professors in history and English, respectively.

After an American Indian honor song performed by Mr. Rodney Johnson Jr., lead singer of the Ojibwe Nation Drum Group, Dr. Allen Bedford, provost and vice president for academic affairs, welcomed attendees to the ceremony and gave a brief history of the project.

“Since 1970, Hagg-Sauer Hall has been a central academic facility at Bemidji State. It was retired in April 2019. Groundbreaking for the new Hagg-Sauer Hall was held on September 16, 2019. And today is the ceremonial opening. Classes will begin meeting here in the upcoming spring semester,” Bedford said. “Getting to this point has been a journey of about 15 years, beginning with the recognition that the University’s academic spaces needed to evolve to support students’ 21st century needs.”

Bedford went on to explain that the new space features three smart classrooms, four mid-size classrooms, one large classroom, an auditorium and second-floor study spaces that overlook Lake Bemidji.

“All of these learning spaces have open sight-lines, enhanced technology and stunning view-sheds, through big glass openings,” Bedford said. “In walking through the building I feel as though I am in the very heart of what we mean when we talk about ‘Themes of Place.’ With the new Hagg-Sauer Hall, it is as though the University has taken another giant step toward embracing the stunning region that surrounds us and vibrant culture that courses through our arteries and veins.”

BSU President Faith C. Hensrud recognized Travis Barnes, director of facilities and Hagg-Sauer project lead, for his hard work and leadership throughout the construction process. She continued to thank key partners, Minnesota legislators and the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities for their unwavering support.

“This building is a replacement for our old Hagg-Sauer Hall — a building which served thousands of students for nearly 50 years. In that time, more than 700 faculty and staff interacted with many thousands more of our students. The classes taken, lessons learned and relationships built were an indelible part of the experience that so many of our students had with Bemidji State University. Certainly, many memories were made within that building’s walls,” President Hensrud said. “That history will help generations of future students, staff and faculty create life-long memories of their own in this new Hagg-Sauer Hall.”

Dr. Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State, highlighted the support Bemidji State and the Minnesota State system received from the State of Minnesota legislature.

“Today, we celebrate this beautifully designed and energy-efficient modern facility that will benefit and enrich students and faculty for years to come,” he said. “The renovations directly support Bemidji State University’s mission of creating highly accessible, innovative and interdisciplinary learning environments.”

Following the chancellor, Chair of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Roger Moe praised BSU’s planning achievement and commitment to providing the highest quality teaching and learning environment to faculty and students.

“Bemidji State University has been a pillar of opportunity in the region for over 100 years. The building’s namesake – both the old and the new – honor Professors Hagg and Sauer, two professors and best friends who taught during a period of tremendous growth for the university,” Moe said. “Now, at the dawn of the next centennial, Bemidji State University builds for the future. The state-of the-art classrooms and spaces will transform learning and teaching promoting collaboration and the close faculty-student relationship that are such clear hallmarks at Bemidji State University.”

Additional comments were made by Dr. Art Lee, professor emeritus of history, Minneapolis-based artist Stacia Goodman, who installed a tile mosaic at the entrance of Hagg-Sauer, and Bemidji State University Student Senate Vice President Zachary Schueller, a sophomore social studies and political science student from Laporte, Minn. Andy Bartlett, executive director of communications and marketing, also offered a virtual walking tour of the facility.

Bemidji State University’s premier choral ensemble, the Bemidji Choir, conducted by Dr. Dwight Jilek, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, brought the event to the close with a performance of the Alma Mater.

“As you hear the words about the shores of Lake Bemidji and the choir asking our Alma Mater to ‘teach us beauty, teach us wisdom,’ picture yourself standing in that glorious second-floor platform with floor to ceiling glass looking east over the lake,” Bedford said. “‘Teach us beauty, teach us wisdom.’ That’s where I want to be.”

Approximately 150 Bemidji State University faculty, staff and students, members of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Minnesota legislature and the Bemidji community gathered to celebrate this accomplishment.

History of the Hagg-Sauer Hall Replacement Project

Bemidji State reached a significant milestone in a years-long effort to replace the aging Hagg-Sauer Hall when former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the state’s bonding bill into law in May 2018. The $1.57 billion bill appropriated $22.512 million for the project, which called for Hagg-Sauer to be demolished and replaced with a smaller, classroom-focused facility, and for renovations in five other buildings on campus.