At their monthly meeting on Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a $116 million renovation to the 71-year-old East Quadrangle Residence Hall.
The reconstruction project includes installation of updated heating and cooling infrastructure and improved electrical, ventilation and fire safety systems. Additionally the building will undergo an expansion of academic areas, a revamp of dining and bathing facilities and establishment of access to high-speed wireless Internet services.
During the meeting, E. Royster Harper, vice president of student affairs, said renovation of the residence hall is crucial in the University’s quest to maintain a high caliber of living standards for students.
“East Quad has been the home for a generation of Michigan students … it is in need of significant repair and improvements in order to continue to welcome home future generations of students,” Harper said.
Harper added that in addition to making the building more aesthetically pleasing and accessible for students, the renovation will also enhance academic programs within the building, such as the Residential College.
“The new space will not only revitalize East Quad community space, but it will make some improvements to the academic facilities and really strengthen the connection between campus living and learning as well as some much needed improvements in our Residential College,” Harper said. “This continues as part of our commitment to improving the residential experience for (University) students.”
In an interview after the meeting, Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) said updating University residence halls is not only important for enhancing the living accommodations of students, but also for attracting prospective applicants.
“If you’re coming here as a prospective student, one of the things you’re comparing is your living conditions,” Newman said. “The dorms, the ones that haven’t been renovated, are really in bad shape and they need to be renovated. So I am a huge proponent of updating and renovating these dorms and I think that’s what’s best for the University and the school.”
She added the reconstruction projects only further displays the University’s quest to make all aspects of University life enjoyable for students.
“It get’s back to everything at the University, the excellence at the University, and the dorms also need to be excellent and they’re not,” Newman said.
University Provost Philip Hanlon echoed Newman’s sentiments in an interview after the meeting, adding that improving the academic aspects of East Quad will also be significant to incoming students who are seeking participation in the Residential College and other related programs that will be relocated there following the renovation, like the Prison Creative Arts Project.
“What we’re hoping to do there is leverage the RC’s already strong commitment to service learning and community engagement through a newly renovated residence hall,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon said this initiative is part of a ceaseless effort by the university to increase the standard of living for both students and faculty alike.
“We of course want to provide a world class experience for our students all around and I think the importance of the learning that can go along with the living part is absolutely crucial to our approach,” Hanlon said. “We want to make sure that these residence halls, many of which have not been renovated for a long time, have the right kind of amenities, like classrooms available and dining as well as comfortable and appropriate accommodations.”