Late last week, the Michigan Legislature approved $383-million in spending on 23 projects at the state’s colleges and universities. But officials at Western Michigan University are upset about a long-needed project that was left out of the bill—a project that is already under way.
At issue is Sangren Hall (above), a heavily used 1964 classroom building that Western Michigan administrators have decided to partly demolish and replace to look more like the rendering below. (Sangren seems to be a fixture on the campus; it was once mentioned on the TV comedy Home Improvement, because Tim Allen’s character attended Western Michigan.)
The $60-million project got started with demolition in the summer. Officials thought they had nailed down support in the statehouse for the new Sangren. But, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette and other local news media, even lawmakers from Kalamazoo did not support money for the project in the bill.
“We put the shovel in the ground on Sangren on the commitment that (funding would be approved), … and our local legislators were going to be there to stand behind this and help support this, particularly [Sen.] Tom George,” Greg Rosine, the university’s senior vice president for advancement and legislative affairs, told the newspaper. “We really got screwed on this one.”
Western Michigan wasn’t the only institution with projects left unfinanced. A $13-million culinary institute at Kalamazoo Valley Community College was also passed over. The approved $383-million in spending is considerably lower than the $969-million in state projects that had been identified. Mr. George, the state senator, told the Gazette that spending that kind of money would be “fiscally unwise.”
Western Michigan officials said they had little choice but to raise tuition 3 percent to cover the costs.
Flickr photo of Sangren Hall by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.