A few dozen University of Michigan community members gathered at the LSA Building Friday morning for a dedication of its new addition more than a year and a half after the addition first opened in January 2020.
LSA Dean Anne Curzan began the dedication with a speech about the necessity of the $35 million renovations and the utility of the new space. Curzan said the addition now allows LSA to have a physical presence on campus that it did not possess before.
“We have sometimes said that, until recently, LSA was both everywhere and nowhere,” Curzan said. “And if you ask students, ‘Where is LSA?’ they gave you that look, like ‘What kind of question is that?’ and they sometimes would say, ‘Maybe the fishbowl?’ because it was a hard question to answer.”
Curzan said the addition gives LSA students a true home and community on campus. She noted the building now hosts various services and organizations for LSA students, including the LSA Opportunity Hub, LSA Student Government and the LSA Scholarships Office, among others.
The new addition features huge windows and a prominent glass staircase. Curzan compared it to the pre-addition LSA building, which she recalled using as a graduate student at the University.
“We are just delighted that this space has been transformed and that we already have students who will never know that ocean of linoleum,” Curzan said.
Next, Curzan introduced University Regent Jordan Acker (D), chair of the Board of Regents, who graduated from the LSA in 2006. Acker said the LSA building was under construction throughout his time at the University, but the dedication has a special place in his heart because of his connection to the college.
“I have to say, it makes me a bit jealous to see less linoleum and more of the beautiful brick and the beautiful windows that we have in here today,” Acker said. “It truly invites the liberal arts community to collaborate, to access the full range of LSA resources and to connect in a comfortable setting, and that’s where great ideas are born.”
University President Mark Schlissel spoke after Acker, commenting on the importance of the liberal arts. Schlissel said the new space will enhance the experiences of LSA students by providing a space for them to interact and utilize various LSA organizations.
“With so much conflict and injustice, with ethical dilemmas and vexing societal problems demanding our attention, the liberal arts’ ability to create fully and broadly educated people remains as essential as ever,” Schlissel said. “This addition reinforces its importance, as its impact will reach far beyond the 21,000 new square feet.”
Schlissel also recognized the addition’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification — it is the University’s 17th LEED-certified project — and its various green features, including windows that deter birds from colliding with them.
The dedication then shifted its focus to the students of LSA, featuring a speech from LSA Student Government President Tyler Watt, an LSA senior.
Watt discussed what LSA SG has accomplished since the onset of the pandemic, including the funding of dozens of student organizations. He said the new space will provide a home for LSA SG and allow them to be better connected to their constituency.
After the event, Watt said in an interview with The Michigan Daily he had not thought about LSA’s prior lack of a centralized location on campus until Curzan pointed it out.
“This building, I guess it does represent the heart of the College of LSA, a center of the College of LSA,” Watt said. “And I think that’s so very valuable, for every degree-granting unit to have its hub.”
Watt said he particularly enjoyed the performances by LSA junior Giovanni Smith, who read an original poem during the program, and LSA junior Cecilia Duran, who closed the event with an original song entitled “Barcelona” about her experience moving to Ann Arbor from Barcelona.
“I’m very grateful that the administration was interested in having students participate, both myself and the performers,” Watt said. “I think it shows that they want this to be a space for everybody, especially the students, so that was exciting to me.”
LSA sophomore Peter Tam is an elected representative in LSA Student Government who said he also enjoyed the student performances. Tam said he felt that Duran’s song was particularly meaningful to him, as he also moved a long distance to Ann Arbor from New York City.
“I think it was a great event,” Tam said. “Really good turnout for something like this, especially since it’s in the middle of the semester and midterms are coming up. It’s great to see people coming here, great to see people supporting the LSA building.”
Daily Staff Reporter Eli Friedman can be reached at email@example.com.