Gov. Rod Blagojevich last week announced $40 million in state funding to cover the cost of replacing the building on Northern Illinois University’s campus where a gunman killed five students in a lecture hall and then himself on Feb. 14.

An additional 17 students were injured in the shooting at Cole Hall.

The state would provide the emergency funding from bond proceeds, although no additional details on the financing were available. The funds would be authorized in legislation being sponsored by Sen. Bradley Burzynski and Rep. Robert Pritchard, both Republicans from Sycamore.

Cole Hall would be demolished and replaced with a state-of-the-art classroom building that would be named Memorial Hall. “We will tear that building down, not to erase the memory of what happened, but to remind us that the human spirit, the will to learn, to build, to grow, to give back — that spirit lives,” the governor said in statement.

University officials closed Cole Hall after the shooting and do not plan to resume classes and operations in the building. University president John Peters said in a statement: “We are extremely grateful for the immediate and unequivocal support from our governor and our state representatives to build a new learning center that will stand as a tribute and beacon of hope on our campus.”

The plan received a mixed reaction, especially from students who in published reports questioned why officials had acted so soon after the tragedy to decide the fate of the building. Some said the money could be better spent on other projects at the school.

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