ISU President Stephen Leath. (file photo)

ISU President Stephen Leath. (file photo)

Iowa State University’s president is asking the governor and legislators to spend $100 million dollars in state taxes over the next five years on a new building for the Ames campus.

“This would be the largest, most expensive building we ever built,” ISU president Steve Leath told the governor and his staff yesterday during a budget hearing at the statehouse.

Leath said the current ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory needs to be replaced. He’s promising to raise another $20 million from private sources for the project.

“It’s somewhat akin to the medical buildings at the University of Iowa, hence the high expense, but we’re processing more than a million and a half tests a year to support our $17 billion annual animal ag industry,” Leath said. “Without this new building, a number of our tests, biocontainment, biosafety are all in jeopardy.”

About 30 people worked in the current Veterinary Diagnostic Lab when it opened in 1976. There are now about 150 people working there.

“We’ve been on the front lines lately for national response, mitigation efforts associated with the avian influenza outbreak, the porcine epidemic diarrhea (virus), saving billions of dollars to our producers,” Leath said. “Our facility is very old. Our caseload has doubled in just the last five years.”

Once a new lab is built, university officials would like to convert the existing lab into research space for students and faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine.