Campus Transformation

Campus Transformation 

Lou Anna K. Simon’s tenure as president of Michigan State University marked a period of campus growth and innovation to accommodate both the physical and operational needs of a rising educational and research institution.

Shortly after assuming the presidency in 2005, Simon led the creation of a strategic framework to guide the university into a new century—one requiring new approaches to delivering higher education and to discovering and applying knowledge to benefit society. Called Boldness by Design, it defined five strategic imperatives to fulfill the university’s commitment to transformation: enhancing the student experience; enriching community, economic, and family life; expanding international reach; increasing research opportunities; and strengthening stewardship.

In 2012, an updated initiative called Bolder by Design was introduced to continue the process of institutional reassessment and planning and to add an imperative meant to drive ongoing progress: Developing and maintaining a culture of high performance. 

Stewardship and Sustainability

Under Simon’s leadership, the university’s $1.5 billion Empower Extraordinary capital campaign, announced in 2014, reached its goal more than a year early in 2017 and continued into 2018. In addition to funding new facilities and supporting students, a major goal was to add 100 endowed faculty professorship and chair positions, toward a total of 200, to support continued growth of the university’s educational excellence. As of January 1, 2018, three quarters of that goal was met.

Such sources of support became increasingly important as state appropriations for higher education declined, also requiring more reliance on tuition and operating efficiencies to sustain operations and provide more support for student scholarships. Simon’s Shaping the Future initiative in 2009 gave the university a framework to continue to support its priorities, including anticipating future societal needs for knowledge and talent.

Beyond that, over the past decade MSU has made in excess of $105 million in reductions and reallocations, each year reallocating millions of dollars through its Performance Efficiency Reinvestment Fund to invest in areas of high opportunity. MSU eliminated post-retirement health care benefits for new hires in 2011, and, having already shifted to defined-contribution retirement benefits in 1973, its pension obligation is fully funded.

Adding to its “Spartan Green” legacy, MSU developed an Energy Transition Plan to meet the growing needs of the campus, changing technologies, and evolving regulations. The plan lays out goals for conversion to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, and energy efficiency and resource sustainability are now considerations in every building and renovation project.  Conservation and efficiency improvements in utility operations save more than $5 million annually, and MSU records some of the lowest energy consumption per square foot in the Big Ten. The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center also was opened to support the university’s sustainability efforts.

An energy milestone was reached when MSU’s power plant ceased burning coal in 2016. Others include the addition of solar panels over 4,500 parking spaces covering 45 acres in 2017 and, beginning in 2013, the operation of an anaerobic digester, which converts waste from MSU’s farms and dining halls into biogas energy for several campus buildings.

Expanded Spaces and Opportunities

Critical to facilitating the progress of instruction and research, Michigan State expanded its campus footprint and presence in Michigan during Simon’s tenure. New and renovated facilities completed or planned under her presidency will help transform learning and promote student success, spur new discoveries and applications to benefit society, and enrich the campus and community.

  • The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams—a $730 million national user facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, MSU, and the State of Michigan—will advance understanding of rare isotopes and provide research opportunities for scientists and students from around the globe. The MSU Center for Economic Analysis estimates that during the construction phase (FY2009-FY2021) and a 20-year operational phase, FRIB will: create up to 1,500 Michigan jobs at the height of construction and about 1,000 permanent jobs during operations, generate $205 million in tax revenues, and add $4.4 billion to the economy.
  • The Bio Engineering Facility is home to the new Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering. It expands a vibrant biomedical cluster on the south side of campus, which includes the Bott Building for Nursing Education and Research and an interdisciplinary science and technology facility started in 2017. The facility will play a key support role in the university’s Global Impact Initiative.
  • The Molecular Plant Sciences Building connected two plant research facilities to bring a variety of research disciplines into closer proximity and to unlock the potential for new interdisciplinary collaborations. The university’s excellence in plant science research dates back to Professor William Beal’s 1879 seed viability experiment, one of the world’s longest-running observed experiments.
  • The College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center in downtown Grand Rapids was joined by the Grand Rapids Research Center, which opened nearby in 2017. The buildings expand opportunities for collaboration with community hospitals and scientists and add new space for medical research and education. 
  • The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, opened in 2012, fulfilling the belief that exposure to the arts enhances all facets of learning, in and out of the classroom and across all disciplines.
  • In 2007, MSU established the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, an innovative living-learning option with a focus on experiential learning and engagement with public issues through arts and humanities for students who want to combine a small-college experience with the resources and opportunities available at a major university. 
  • The School of Music, which had previously been part of the College of Arts and Letters, became the College of Music in 2007.
  • In 2012 the College of Music’s Byron and Dolores Cook Recital Hall opened after a thorough renovation of a 1940s-era performance space. It was followed by renovation of the MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theater. Planning for a major expansion and other renovations for the College of Music was approved in 2017.
  • Wharton Center for Performing Arts facilities have been upgraded and programming service expanded to Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
  • In 2012, Wells Hall was expanded to consolidate language education and other academic units.
  • The Eli Broad College of Business Pavilion, currently under construction, will house the MBA program and professional graduate programs of the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management. The facility, with its new teaching and learning spaces supporting a new curriculum, will foster an academic ecosystem that uses technology and collaborative spaces to train future business leaders, including engaging students with corporate executives, employers, and alumni.
  • The MSU Innovation Center, which combines innovation, technology transfer, start-up support, and a portfolio of dedicated business and community partnerships, brings cutting-edge ideas to the marketplace. The center launches more than 130 discoveries into patented products and start-up businesses annually, is supported by incubator spaces on and off campus, and provides a thriving environment for entrepreneurship on campus.
  • 1855 Place, a multi-use complex expanding rental residential options, consolidating Residential Hospitality Services and athletics offices, and adding retail space, opened on Harrison Road across from the Breslin Center in 2017.
  • Campus sports renovations and expansions include Spartan Stadium, Breslin Center, ball fields, and practice grounds.