Overview of the Welcome Home 2025 Plan

  • What is the EMU Welcome Home 2025 Plan? Expand dropdown
    EMU’s Welcome Home 2025 Plan is an equity initiative that will invest more than $200 million to transform student housing to ensure that EMU students have access to affordable and quality housing on EMU’s campus. The specific details of the improvements to student housing facilities will be developed with the campus community in the coming months, but the Plan will, by 2025, result in the construction of new student housing facilities on campus, renovation of existing housing facilities, and demolition of outdated student housing facilities. 
  • Why is EMU upgrading its on-campus student housing facilities? Expand dropdown

    EMU’s Welcome Home 2025 Plan is an equity initiative. Its goal is to ensure that EMU student housing residents -- nearly 40% of whom are students of color -- have access to quality and affordable housing.

    EMU’s on-campus student housing facilities (which consist of more than 4,000 beds throughout 18 housing communities) are, unfortunately, outdated: most facilities were built more than 50 years ago, have not been updated, and have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance. In the most recent comprehensive assessment of EMU’s facilities, completed in 2016, all but one of EMU’s housing facilities were rated as “poor.” (link to website with facilities condition chart)

    Over the years, the University has focused its limited capital budget on improvements to academic facilities (e.g., Sill Hall renovation), core infrastructure (e.g., the new Energy Center), and student life assets (e.g., Rec/IM renovation). It is now time to invest in student housing facilities to ensure that EMU students have quality and affordable facilities in which to live, study, and socialize.

    Other universities are investing in student housing facilities (including WMU, WSU, OU, NMU, and MSU) because they recognize the importance of offering students a high-quality on-campus living experience.

  • How was the Welcome Home 2025 Plan developed? Expand dropdown
    The Welcome Home 2025 Plan is the result of a comprehensive planning effort that began in September 2018 and resulted in detailed input from EMU Student Government, the University Budget Council, and the Faculty Senate, as well as surveys and focus groups with EMU students and review of housing data from peer institutions. The University issued a comprehensive report in May 2021 outlining the extensive input process. This timeline provides an overview of that process.

Financing

  • How will EMU finance the improvements to student housing facilities? Expand dropdown
    The University has selected Gilbane Development Company as a partner for the Welcome Home 2025 initiative. A separate 501(c)(3) non-profit entity will issue tax exempt bonds to provide the financing for the construction (including demolition, renovation, and new construction) of student housing facilities. You can learn more here about the financing structure
  • Why is the University working with Gilbane to finance the improvements to student housing facilities?¬ Expand dropdown

    EMU determined that it is not in the best interest of students, faculty, or staff for the University to self-fund the $200+ million Welcome Home 2025 initiative because, as outlined in more detail below, the University borrowing to make a $200+ million capital investment would require EMU to issue significant new debt, use its cash reserves, or a combination of both -- and, as outlined below, any of these options would require funding cuts to other University operations.

    Debt: If EMU borrowed $200+ million to finance the improvements to student housing facilities, EMU would be required to pay over $10 million per year to service the debt -- thus requiring massive cuts to the University’s operating budget to cover that expense. Budget cuts of this scale would negatively impact the classroom experience, financial aid, student services, facilities, and other areas of the University. Taking on this much new debt would also cause a negative impact on the University’s financial position.

    Cash: The University does not have unrestricted cash reserves to fund an investment of this scope. Moreover, diverting operating funds (which are different than reserves) to pay for student housing improvements would require massive cuts to the University’s operating budget, thereby negatively impacting the classroom experience, financial aid, student services, facilities, and other areas of the University.

     

  • What does Gilbane get out of this deal? Expand dropdown

    In return for coordinating the financing, Gilbane, and their construction partner, Clark Construction, will receive an initial $200 million-plus in construction activity to take place from 2022-2025, an additional $135 million for ongoing renovations over the life of the agreement, and a property management fee to maintain the facilities which will be tied to achieving key performance indicators that will be developed by EMU and Gilbane.

  • Will student housing rates increase as a result of the partnership with Gilbane? Expand dropdown

    No. Long-term affordability for students was the University’s top priority in developing the Welcome Home 2025 plan, which was reflected in responses to the University’s request for proposals (RFP).

  • What happens if there is not sufficient housing occupancy in future years? Expand dropdown

    The University will not have any requirements to guarantee occupancy in student housing. In the event occupancy falls below expectations, EMU’s partner will be responsible for any operating deficits.

Construction & Design

  • What types of housing improvements will occur? Expand dropdown
    The goal of the Welcome Home 2025 Plan is to transform on-campus student housing facilities. New facilities will be constructed to offer students access to quality and affordable on-campus housing. Other facilities will be renovated. Some older facilities will be demolished. Every housing facility except for Wise Hall (which was renovated in 2015) will be upgraded. The campus community will be actively engaged in planning the exact details of this project over the next several months.
  • What is the timeline for the Welcome Home 2025 Plan? Expand dropdown

    The planning process that led to the Welcome Home 2025 Plan began in September 2018. 

    As a next step, the University will negotiate a comprehensive  agreement with Gilbane Development Company. 

    The University will also immediately begin engaging the campus community in the process of designing specific improvements to student housing facilities, including new construction, renovation, and demolition. 

    We expect that construction will begin in the summer of 2022 and that all construction will be completed by fall 2025.

  • When can we see designs showing the proposed improvements to student housing facilities? Expand dropdown
    The detailed design process has not begun. Instead, the University will immediately begin engaging the campus community in the process of designing specific improvements to student housing facilities, including new construction, renovation, and demolition. We expect that construction will begin in the summer of 2022 and that all construction will be completed by fall 2025.
  • How will EMU ensure that the construction is high quality? Expand dropdown
    EMU’s Facilities team will be integrally involved in overseeing construction and renovation of student housing facilities to ensure that all improvements meets the University’s high standards for construction quality.
  • Will air conditioning be included in the improvements to student housing? Expand dropdown
    The University understands that air conditioning is a top priority for many students and it will therefore be prioritized during the design process, which will begin in early 2022 and actively involve students. Air conditioning is currently assumed to be included in all new construction and major renovation projects. There are two communities identified for minor renovation (Cornell Courts and 601 West Forest) that do not include air conditioning in the preliminary scope; however, EMU is planning to work with Gilbane to identify additional opportunities to implement air conditioning in these residential communities.

Housing for Students

  • What types of housing units will be available for students? Expand dropdown
    The University plans to continue to offer a variety of on-campus housing options to students, including single rooms, suites, and apartments. The exact details of how many units and the design and location of those units has not been determined because the detailed design process has not begun. Instead, the University will immediately begin engaging the campus community in the process of designing specific improvements to student housing facilities.
  • Will air conditioning be included in the improvements to student housing? Expand dropdown
    The University understands that air conditioning is a top priority for many students and it will therefore be prioritized during the design process, which will begin in early 2022 and actively involve students. Air conditioning is currently assumed to be included in all new construction and major renovation projects. There are two communities identified for minor renovation (Cornell Courts and 601 West Forest) that do not include air conditioning in the preliminary scope; however, EMU is planning to work with Gilbane to identify additional opportunities to implement air conditioning in these residential communities.

Employment

  • Will EMU continue to employ Residence Life staff? Expand dropdown
    Yes. EMU will continue to hire, train, employ, and supervise all staff whose mission is focused on residence life operations, including resident advisors (RAs), Complex Directors, Graduate Student Hall Directors, and front desk staff. 
  • Who will manage maintenance and custodial operations for on-campus student housing? Expand dropdown
    Gilbane will hire, train, employ, and supervise all maintenance and custodial staff working in student housing. All custodial and maintenance staff who are currently employed by EMU and work in EMU student housing will have the choice to seek employment  with Gilbane or  continue working in their current maintenance/custodial roles at EMU.
  • Will any EMU employees lose their jobs as a result of this partnership? Expand dropdown

    No. 

    EMU will continue to hire, train, employ, and supervise all staff whose mission is focused on residence life operations, including resident advisors (RAs), Complex Directors, Graduate Student Hall Directors, and front desk staff. 

    Gilbane will hire, train, employ, and supervise all maintenance and custodial staff working in student housing. All custodial and maintenance staff who are currently employed by EMU and work in EMU student housing will be offered jobs with Gilbane or be permitted to continue working in their current maintenance/custodial roles at EMU.