State approved $30 million for renovations to Strong Hall

An example of outdated building elements inside Strong Hall. 

The Michigan State Legislature approved $30 million in funding to Eastern Michigan University for the renovation of Strong Hall, a building that is part of the main campus science complex, Wednesday night. The funding was approved to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

“I’m excited to think of what we’ll be able to offer our students in terms of the classroom and laboratory experience in academic operations,” Interim EMU President Don Loppnow said in a press release from the university.

Strong Hall was opened in 1957 and hasn’t been renovated or upgraded significantly since. The departments of physics, astronomy, geography and geology all share the 80,000 square foot building.

“The remodeling comes at a good time. With an ever modernizing and globalizing world, there is much demand for studies in sustainable development, geographic information systems, and the earth sciences, both physical and social. It is difficult to provide the quality instructions our students deserve with outdated facilities and equipment," geography instructor Ping Zhou said.

Zhou says that he and his colleagues have been pushing for a remodel “for more than a decade.”

The state will be providing 75 percent of the budget to remodel the building. The university will provide $9.9 million of the $39.5 million total budget. This is a part of a $90 million renovation project in the science complex has been working on over the past few years. Renovations on Mark-Jefferson were finished just a few years ago.

Once renovations are completed, Strong Hall will be home to a Mars computer weather simulation lab, a plasma physics lab, laser physics lab, modern optics lab and classrooms. According to a campus-wide email sent my Loppnow, a quarter of EMU’s STEM classes are done in the building,

“State approval of the Strong Hall project marks a monumental moment in Eastern’s history and represents a significant step forward in the University’s deep and continued commitment to educating students in STEM disciplines,” Loppnow said.

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bill later this week.

Incoming EMU President James Smith said in the press release, “This project aligns with the state of Michigan’s well-articulated goal of preparing more students for STEM careers that contribute to the state’s economy.”

Enrollment in STEM fields rose by 11 percent after Mark-Jefferson’s renovations were finished, according to the university. Eastern’s investment in the science complex is the most elongated and most expensive of its kind.

By Photo courtesty of @icA2argus / The Eastern Echo

Eastern Michigan University's Strong Hall on main campus. 

By Adam Karr / The Eastern Echo

This bill passed was not just for Eastern however. The University of Michigan Dental School is also getting $30 million as part of a $122 million renovation project occurring on their campus, according to M-Live.

The remodel will be designed to conform with Silver Level LEED certification and to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. LEED certification is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design scale, used to recognize the ecological sustainability of construction and architecture.

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