SMC investing $7.5 million to renovate two buildingsPublished 10:36am Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees reviewed plans for a $7.5 million renovation of two classroom buildings on the college’s Dowagiac campus and approved privatization of SMC bookstore operations during its regularly scheduled meeting for September Monday night.
Arkos Design Inc. of Niles presented the board with schematic designs for the complete renovation of two academic buildings that was recently granted planning authorization by the State of Michigan.
The two buildings, the Foster W. Daugherty Building and the William P.D. O’Leary Building, have been part of the campus physical plant since SMC opened in 1966.
A two-stage plan has been developed to first completely renovate the O’Leary Building into a New Science and Allied Health Building, then the following year to renovate the “old” science building (Daugherty) into the New Academic Building with general purpose classrooms.
This plan will provide for construction of new science laboratories before the older ones are de-commissioned.
The New Science Building will include SCALE-UP labs (“Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs”) identical to those recently constructed on the Niles campus. These can be used for chemistry, biology and physics while also serving as classrooms.
A major portion of the building will be devoted to student-faculty collaboration outside of the laboratories.
The renovation also includes in-filling two corners at the south end of the building to create new classrooms, thus gaining additional program space.
The new classrooms created within the Daugherty Building will also provide increased space to help the college accommodate the overall growth in enrollment experienced in the last seven years.
Renovating and upgrading the college’s science and allied health labs on the Dowagiac campus will enhance SMC’s capacity to provide educational offerings in the science fields.
An additional benefit of this plan is transformation of the least energy-efficient buildings on campus into LEED-certified, energy-efficient facilities.
This project is estimated to cost approximately $7.5 million, covering roughly 37,000 square feet.
Fifty percent of this cost will be paid by the State of Michigan, and the remaining 50 percent will be paid by the college through construction bonds.
Trustees approved the administration’s recommendation to privatize the management and operation of the bookstore.
According to SMC President Dr. David Mathews, “One-hundred percent of the profits from the SMC bookstore are used by the college to fund student scholarships. It is critically important that this operation be highly student-centered, provide affordable course materials and it is also important that it be financially viable for the long term. Competitive proposals have been reviewed from the nation’s top academic retailing service providers. It is evident from the proposals that the college can best meet our three goals of enhancing services to students, lowering the costs of educational support materials for students and retaining bookstore profitability that funds student scholarships, through privatizing this operation at the college.”
Terms of agreement are expected to be reached within the next two weeks, with a complete transition to take place during the current semester.