Message from President Loppnow: Strong Hall

June 9, 2016

To Students, Faculty and Staff:

We are pleased to announce, after seven years as Eastern’s top capital outlay priority, the Michigan Legislature last night approved our request to completely overhaul and renovate Strong Hall. Pending the Governor’s signature, which is expected next week, Eastern expects to receive nearly $30 million in state funding for the $39.5 million project, with Eastern responsible for $9.9 million. (Under the state’s capital outlay provisions, the state provides funding for 75 percent of approved projects, with the university responsible for the remaining 25 percent.)

State approval of the Strong Hall project marks a monumental moment in Eastern’s history and represents a significant step forward in the University’s deep and continued commitment to educating students in STEM disciplines.

As you know, Strong Hall is part of Eastern's Science Complex, and currently houses key science programs, including the Mars Computer Weather Simulation Lab, the Plasma Physics Lab, the Laser Physics Lab, the Modern Optics Lab, Environmental Sciences, and the departments of physics and astronomy, and geography and geology. It is a crucial academic facility on Eastern’s campus; more than 25 percent of the University’s STEM lab classrooms are in the building.

The Strong Hall project, along with the $90-million, self-funded addition and renovation of the Science Complex, demonstrates the University’s commitment to the sciences, and will result in first-class facilities on Eastern’s campus. The renovation of Strong Hall will complete the Science Complex project.

I would like to thank the Michigan Legislature and Governor Snyder for their diligence in working on the budget and their consideration of Eastern’s request. I also would like to acknowledge the work of the Provost’s office, the Facilities, Business and Finance, and Government Relations divisions, and our Board of Regents, for the countless hours preparing our request and in meetings with lawmakers to help us build support for the project in a competitive environment. I also would like to credit our many faculty and staff, and our students, who worked hard to make the best of their experience in Strong Hall, and who can now expect a brand new day ahead.

The Strong Hall project involves renovation of the entire 80,713 square-foot structure, including modernizing classrooms and labs, lecture halls, student commons areas and faculty offices, along with creating flexible-use spaces for research and instruction and updating of architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical systems.

Under current construction plans and subject to the state’s capital outlay approval process, EMU is prepared to close the building and begin construction as early as January 2017, and reopen for classes in the fall of 2018.

All renovations would meet LEED Silver Criteria and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building, located in the middle of campus, was built in 1957 and has not received any significant overall improvements since its construction. Strong Hall has been Eastern’s top state capital outlay project priority since fiscal year 2010, the year after EMU received funding for the Pray-Harrold Building renovation.

The Science Complex project, the largest and most costly in Eastern’s history, underscores the University’s broad effort to educate students in science-related disciplines. Eastern has experienced an 11 percent increase in enrollment for STEM fields of study since the completed renovation of Mark Jefferson Hall.

Please join me in sharing this exciting news with those inside and outside the Eastern community. This is a very important day for our University.

For more details about the project, please view the Strong Hall news release.

Donald Loppnow