Good things are happening at the University of Michigan-Flint. Yet another major Downtown project is underway that will benefit students and the community at large. UM-Flint Chancellor, Susan Borrego, is proud to announce the latest Downtown development, the expansion of the William R. Murchie Science Building – home to thousands of students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program. A Groundbreaking Ceremony is set for October 11 at 3pm, open to all campus and community members. Designed by Architect, Harley Ellis Devereaux in Southfield, the expansion is expected to be complete in January 2021.
The need for the expansion came about for many reasons, according to Borrego. Students majoring in STEM have increased well over 50 percent. The number of graduate students majoring in STEM has also increased. By 2026, the University is projected to have 700 more STEM students. In addition, every student at the UM-Flint is required to take at least one natural science lab class.
The project will expand the Murchie Science Building by 65,000 square feet with the addition of a third wing that will house the majority of the STEM program for the campus. “It’s pretty impressive,” says Susan Gano-Phillips, Dean of Arts and Sciences. “It is much needed space that will take instruction to a new level.” She also said that the College of Arts and Sciences is ecstatic about the additional wing.
According to the Chancellor, the faculty was very involved in designing the expansion. Gano-Phillips has been involved in the planning process for the last 18 months. Over 35 faculty and staff were consulted about the design to ensure future needs will be met. “The idea was to accommodate more smart classrooms, labs and faculty space – giving the university a leading edge in the STEM program,” says Gano-Phillips. “It’s going to broaden the academic experience for students, and academic research for the faculty.”
The new wing will be a flexible space to support interactive learning, collaboration across different fields of study, and meet evolving needs. Specifically, the space will consist of:
- Labs and Lab Support (51%)
- Classrooms (23%)
- Student Spaces (14%)
- Faculty Spaces (12%)
What will the expansion bring to the students? “From our initial conceptualization of this learning space to the delivery of classroom and laboratory experiences, students have been and will continue to be front and center,” Gano-Phillips adds. She also says the expansion will allow student learning to be transformed by more active hands-on and collaborative experiences. “Through this building project, we plan to promote synergies, innovation and cross-disciplinary collaborations while strengthening the sense of community among our students, faculty and staff.”
What will this bring to the community? Borrego says the expansion project, which also includes renovations of the existing building, will be an asset. “As an anchor in the city, the University is making a significant investment in Downtown Flint that will allow for increasing talent development and be attractive to entrepreneurs and businesspeople,” she shares, adding that it will also help in student recruitment as well as attracting and retaining faculty members. “It’s an additional footprint in the revitalization of Flint. It’s a positive.”
The total cost of the William R. Murchie Science Building expansion is $39 million. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supported the expansion with a generous $8 million grant. State Appropriations awarded $30 million to the project, but approximately $2 million still needs to be raised. Gano-Phillips says they are working on a variety of opportunities such as a Donor Wall, naming opportunities, or possibly, a commissioned piece of art.
Both Chancellor Borrego and Dean Gano-Phillips are looking forward to the completion of the project. “It’s going to be exciting! I can’t wait for it to be here!” exclaims Gano-Phillips. “This expansion will showcase and deliver 21st Century STEM education to all University of Michigan-Flint students and we expect it will help us continue to attract talented, creative students and faculty for many years to come.”
Examples of exciting new spaces that accommodate multiple disciplines:
- Four new interactive classrooms with flexible seating
- Engineering labs that will include a large bay door to the outside allowing a vehicle to be brought in for hands-on learning possibilities
- Robotics lab that will study modern systems
- Multiple areas for faculty to do research and to engage students in research
- Dedicated lab for the Genesee Early College students that will launch an early interest in science
- Multiple spaces to facilitate increased student/faculty interaction
How to Donate
For more info on how to donate to the William R. Murchie Science Building expansion visit umflint.edu/development/murchie-science-building-expansion
Renderings provided by UM-Flint