Saturday, March 2, 2024

MSU board approves campus infrastructure changes

February 2, 2024
The MSU Board of Trustees listen to a speech during a MSU Board of Trustee's meeting in East Lansing, Mich., Feb. 2, 2024. The Board of Trustees fielded comments from the public, including the divestment of the university's assets from Israel.
The MSU Board of Trustees listen to a speech during a MSU Board of Trustee's meeting in East Lansing, Mich., Feb. 2, 2024. The Board of Trustees fielded comments from the public, including the divestment of the university's assets from Israel. —
Photo by Brendan Mullin | The State News

Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees approved several agenda items that revise existing university policies and make changes to university infrastructure. 

That includes leasing two buildings on Hagadorn Road, renovating the packaging building and Campbell Hall, and revising a policy on how the university names buildings and facilities.

Campbell Hall renovations

A budget of $3.1 million is planned for new major infrastructure changes to Campbell Hall, which was built in 1939 and is one of the oldest buildings on campus. Work will begin May 2024 with an expected reopening in August 2025. 

The resolution states, “The project will address major building systems including life safety and accessibility, along with mechanical, electrical, building envelope, and finishes. The upgrades will improve student gathering, study, and residential spaces. The project will include renovations to space to support MSU Honors College programming in the former dining room area.” 

Faculty Senate Chair Jack Lipton voiced concerns over the safety of aging campus buildings.  

“While we see shiny new buildings opening around campus, they do not keep pace with buildings that are becoming obsolete, unsafe past their useful lives and too expensive to maintain,” Lipton said during the faculty liaison report.

Leasing 4660 Hagadorn Road and 4700 Hagadorn Road

The board consented to enter into long-term leases for 4660 Hagadorn Road and 4700 Hagadorn Road, which are currently sites of MSU Health Care Pharmacy. 

The lease will allow MSU Health Care to “consolidate and brand their clinical practices as well as expand and grow the practice offerings in the Mid-Michigan healthcare market,” according to the resolutions.

“MSU’s commitment is to provide patient and family-centered care, and to have an environment where that can be done is a wonderful way to support faculty and staff and all the patients seeking care,” Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman Beauchamp said.

Valerie von Frank, a member of Parents of Sister Survivors Engage, criticized the board for not recognizing the property as a site of disgraced ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse. 

“You don't recognize you just signed a long term lease at the building, 4660 Hagadorn, that is the site of so incredibly much trauma for the 546 survivors,” von Frank said.

Packaging building renovations

The board approved a plan for renovations to the packaging building, which will provide more lab and study space in the building.

Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Kelly Millenbah said the renovations are worthwhile given that MSU’s packaging program is the largest in the country.

The board approved a nearly $11 million expansion to the packaging building in 2022, which was completed in April 2023.

MSU produces 40% of the packaging engineers in the industry and offers the only packaging PhD program in the country, according to the board resolution.

“This phase of our growth is dedicated to advancing our research enterprise,” Millenbah said “The goal of the phase is to essentially expand the building to allow us to create additional research laboratories for our faculty.”

The renovations are expected to cost $25 million, and will be funded by “gifts to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources/School of Packaging with possible debt financing,” according to the board resolution. 

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Donor accountability and naming of buildings

The board also imposed stricter rules for naming campus buildings and facilities, after a donor who went on a racist tirade had his name removed from a university lab in October.  

The changes outline a more detailed process for changing or removing previous naming, and expanding the role and composition of a Naming Committee which advises the university president on proposed names or changes to names. 

The committee will now go through “thorough, factual investigation of the proposed honoree,” according to the updated policy. Buildings that aren’t being named after people do not have to go through the committee.

The decision follows a lengthy battle over what’s now the Eli Broad College of Business Entrepreneurship Lab. 

The facility was originally named after Larry Gaynor, the CEO of TNG Worldwide, who donated $3 million to MSU in 2017, and his wife.

But after a racist tirade about the Vietnamese community in 2020, MSU’s student government passed two bills advocating for the removal of Gaynor’s name from the facility and stricter rules on the naming of buildings for stronger donor accountability.

Following years of student advocacy, MSU removed the name in October 2023.

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