By Geoff Larcom / EMU
YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University is planning to relocate its College of Business to central campus, a move that will enhance learning opportunities for students, facilitate faculty collaboration and increase investment in the continued revival of downtown Ypsilanti.
The move includes the selling of the Gary Owen Building, present home of Eastern’s College of Business. The authorization to pursue the sale to River Caddis Development for $2.7 million was approved by the Board of Regents at its regular meeting Thursday, April 23. The public meeting was held remotely because of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Boone Hall, a highly visible, open and welcoming academic building located on Cross Street on the southeast end of campus, will be the new location for the College of Business’s primary operations. The building will undergo significant renovation, tentatively beginning in April 2021.
Boone Hall presently houses a variety of administrative offices, including Engage @ EMU, Enrollment Management and the Office of Research Development and Administration. Business classes will be held at locations around Eastern’s central campus, including the Pray Harrold Classroom Building.
“The University has discussed for some time its desire to return the College of Business to central campus because such a move will benefit students, faculty, and staff, and will support all of the institution’s strategic priorities,” said University President James Smith. “The University will renovate Boone Hall to provide a world-class facility to support our premiere business school for decades to come.
“This move is a continuation of the University’s ongoing effort to strategically modernize its academic facilities. Over the last 10 years, Eastern Michigan has invested millions of dollars to renovate Mark Jefferson, Strong Hall, and Sill Hall, among other buildings, to ensure we offer world-class academic facilities that help train Eastern students for high-demand jobs and fulfilling careers.”
Eastern Michigan University College of Business Dean Ken Lord said, “Providing the College of Business with a modern facility that is integrated with the rest of campus will allow us to continue our tradition of excellence and will provide more opportunities for faculty collaboration. The college has enjoyed a distinguished tenure in the Gary Owen Building, where we’ve built a powerful tradition of practical and globally based training. Now, we’re extremely excited about the new opportunities this move will bring for our students and faculty.”
The actions are in alignment with the University’s strategic plan priorities:
- High Performing Academic Programs & Quality Research: The Princeton Review consistently ranks the COB as one of the nation’s best business schools.
- Student Success & Engagement: Returning the College of Business to central campus in a modern facility will expand opportunities for interdisciplinary learning with the other colleges and reduce the need for them to travel to an off-site location to take business school or other courses.
- Serve & Engage EMU & Regional Communities: The transition will be a vital improvement to the community. “Downtown Ypsilanti – where the Gary Owen Building is located – is enjoying a renaissance,” President Smith said. “Adding the building to the city’s tax rolls and creating new investment will further enhance downtown Ypsilanti.”
In addition to supporting these priorities, the move will also reduce utility, maintenance, and transportation costs that the University incurs by housing the COB away from central campus.
Adding the building to the city’s tax rolls and creating new investment will further enhance downtown Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert said, “Eastern Michigan University and its College of Business have been wonderful partners with the City of Ypsilanti for decades. The University greatly contributes to Ypsilanti’s distinctive and vibrant downtown community. We are truly excited about how this move and the new building owners will continue to enhance the investment and the ongoing revitalization of our city.”
As has been the case in recent years, COB faculty and staff were already scheduled to move from the Owen Building to Halle Library at the end of the semester for the summer of 2020. The University hopes that move will proceed as planned and scheduled, but it may be impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Plans for COB faculty and staff for the fall semester will be determined as soon as possible based on health directives related to the resumption of on campus and construction activities.
The University has not set a completion date for the transformation of Boone Hall. Given the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of construction activities due to COVID-19 government directives, it is difficult at this time to provide a precise completion date. The University is targeting a project timeline of 28-36 months after the COB moves out of the Owen Building.
Construction began on the Gary Owen Building in 1988 and it was dedicated in 1991. It is named after Gary M. Owen, former Michigan Speaker of the House. Students access the building by walking, by taking a shuttle bus from the main campus, or they can drive and park at the adjacent parking structure.
A Frequently Asked Questions document has been prepared with additional information.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.