Regents approve building renovations, rename South Hall after $33M donation

Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 9:26pm

Rackham Student Government President Naomi Wilson addresses the Regents during the Regents Meeting at the Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse Monday afternoon.

Rackham Student Government President Naomi Wilson addresses the Regents during the Regents Meeting at the Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse Monday afternoon. Buy this photo
Keemyah Esmael/Daily

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to allocate funds for various University building projects as well as authorize the purchase of new land Thursday afternoon at their monthly meeting. The board also approved the renaming of the Law School’s South Hall after receiving a $33 million donation from an alum for Law student support.

Chris Jeffries, who graduated from the Law School in 1974, donated the sum to the Law School with his wife Lisa, and dedicated the funds to Law student support, scholarships and additional funding for students. This gift brings Jeffries’ total lifetime donations to the University to more than $40 million.

Jerry May, outgoing vice president of development, announced the gift to the board and said Jeffries had been considering the gift, which will have a large impact of financial accessibility, for a significant period of time.

“(Jeffries) has been, for some years, talking with the Law School leadership about making a gift to students, but not just a gift to students — a profound gift to students,” May said. “This is an extraordinary gift and it’s for student support, access to student scholarships for students who can’t afford to come here, funding for summer programs, debt management, it’s just a grand slam.”

According to the Regents’ action request, the gift is the largest in the history of the Law School and the largest gift to a public law school in the country.

In honor of the gift, the board voted unanimously to rename the South Hall building in the Law School “Jeffries Hall.”

The board also approved funding allocations for the Central Campus Classroom Building, the Ruthven Building, the Wall Street West Parking Structure and the Dean Road Transportation Facility.

The Central Campus Classroom Building, which will be built onto the Ruthven Building, the former home of the University’s Natural History Museum, will be approximately 100,000 gross square feet and will prominently feature large, collaborative classroom spaces. The 1964 renovation to the Ruthven Building, approximately 34,000 gross square feet, will be demolished to make way for the new wing, which will seat more than 1,400 students.

Neil Martin, the architect on the project, said the large classroom concept will make the building a greater tool for academic engagement and innovation.

“We’re very excited to repurpose the historic Ruthven Building, mixed-use administration facility, integrating research and academic initiatives,” Martin said. “The great opportunity for this building is to transform the double-height Natural History Museum to a large multipurpose space and connect the rest of the University to this building as a campus-wide asset that we look to utilize, garnering over 200 people in that space alone.”

The Wall Street West Parking Structure schematic designs were approved and construction was approved to move forward Thursday. A seven-level, 1,080-space parking structure will be built on top of the current 130-space parking lot on Wall Street near the Medical Campus. The project will cost approximately $39.5 million.

The Transportation Facility project was also approved at the meeting. The new facility, which is currently the site of the University Laundry Building, will be approximately 70,000 gross square feet and will cost $39 million. The facility will be the new maintenance space for the University buses.

Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the current laundry facility will be relocated and the project will not impact local traffic.

“The laundry facilities service the needs of Michigan Medicine,” Hegarty said. “Michigan Medicine plans to make alternative arrangements for its laundry needs and will no longer need the facility. The facility is quite old … The location of the new facility will put no new additional bus traffic on Green Road.”

In addition to the other funding allocations, the University sold 17.8 acres of land from the Ann Arbor Technology Park to KLA-Tencor Corporation and bought 6.54 acres of land next to the University’s Coliseum property. The University made $26.7 million from the sale and spent $24 million to acquire the new land, which is commonly known as Fingerle Lumber south of East Madison Street.