In an email addressed to EMU students, faculty, and staff, the Office of the President announced the sale of the Owen Building, currently home to EMU's College of Business, to a a private party. The sale is expected to be finalized April 23, 2020 during the university's Board of Regents meeting.
The transaction is occurring during the "Stay home. Stay safe." executive order enacted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. According to the email from EMU President James Smith, the Owen Building transaction has been in development for many months. The identity of the purchaser and their intended use of the Owen Building have not been announced.
This transaction allows EMU to move the College of Business to central campus. According to the statement from the president, College of Business will be permanently housed in Boone Hall following the finalization of the transaction. University administration chose Boone Hall because "it is a signature facility in a prime front-facing location." The university plans to renovate Boone Hall to "support [the] award-winning college for decades to come."
The process to renovate Boone Hall will begin in the fall of 2020. The effort will be coordinated by Jim Carroll, associate provost and associate vice president for administration in the Provost’s Office. COB faculty and staff will be included in the consultation and design processes regarding the renovation of Boone Hall. COB associated offices will also extend into other buildings beside Boone. The email states that the "process will be similar to the successful planning that took place for the renovations of Sill, Strong, Mark Jefferson and Pray-Harrold."
A final date for the opening of Boone Hall as the new home to the COB is undecided. This is largely impart due to the temporary halt on construction activities due to the Michigan's stay-at-home order. A projected timeline for the renovation is 26-28 months after the COB leaves the Owe Building.
The decision to move the COB to central campus will help reduce utility, maintenance, and transportation costs that are incurred by the university by housing the COB off of central campus. Additionally, the university lists benefits including increasing possibilities of "interdisciplinary learning with the other colleges", "providing the COB with a modern facility that is integrated with the rest of campus", "more opportunities for faculty collaboration across campus", and allowing private use of the Owen Building and thus increasing City of Ypsilanti's tax revenue as benefits to the COB move.
The COB has been housed in the Gary M. Owen Building, located at 300 W Michigan Ave in downtown Ypsilanti since 1991. Boone Hall is located at the corners of West Cross Ave. and College Place, which is on the southern edge of main campus. According to the university statement, parking options are being analyzed as this move may lead to parking concerns due to the COB's new central campus location.
For the summer of 2020, COB faculty and staff were scheduled to move to Halle Library, however this is now uncertain to COVID-19 related restrictions.
Currently Boone Hall houses the offices for EMU's Academic-Service Learning, Engage @ EMU, Enrollment Management, Graduate School, the Graduate School Advising Center, Online Education, the Office of Research Development Administration (ORDA), and Title IX.
The EMU Board of Regents meeting will be live streamed on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 1 p.m. It will be available on the Official EMU YouTube Channel and the EMU Board of Regents website. This will be the first live streamed EMU Board of Regents meeting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.