Source: Ursula Zerilli
Department: Kalamazoo Gazette
KALAMAZOO, MI - Guests walked past rows of Western Michigan University students holding Bronco flags as they entered the front doors of the New Paul V. Sangren Hall on Friday night during the formal celebration of the university's recent building additions and pedestrian mall.
The university officially welcomed the community to see the completion of the 230,000-square-foot facility that now contains the College of Education and Human Development and the Department of Sociology.
Earlier in the evening, the university celebrated the 50th anniversary of newly renovated Lee Honors College, which recently underwent a $1.7 million renovation thanks to Carl Lee, of Fetzer Broadcasting, who contributed to the facility when it was first constructed in 1990.
Between the buildings now lays a landscaped pedestrian mall with wide sidewalks and a three-tiered, granite water feature, replacing a dead-end asphalt road.
"The new Sangren Hall is literally and figuratively the heart of our campus; this building, the pedestrian mall and the renovated Lee Honors College, transformed our core campus," WMU President John Dunn said. "These facilities reflect and enhance the values we hold dear: Intellectual success, discovery, sustainability and a commitment to our community."
The $60-million building features 50 classrooms with 2,435 instructional seats, an education library, a grants and research center, and office and clinical space for programs including the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic, the Kercher Center for Social Research and the Dorothy J. McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic.
The building has 30 percent more seats than the old Sangren, and is built to save $345,000 per year in energy costs. The building is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.
Dunn applauded the many university and community teams and political leaders for their roles in the project, as the Sangren Hall project topped WMU's capital outlay project list for more than a decade before it received funding - a $30 million contribution from the State of Michigan.
"The new Sangren Hall provides a place where students can learn using cutting-edge technology, offices where faculty can be connected to the world like never before and aesthetically beautiful common areas where students and staff can interact," said Senator Tonya Schuitmaker. "When I was first a state rep., Diether Haenicke had us out and we had a legislative picnic in perhaps the worst room to have our lunch in Sangren Hall, with wires hanging and paint peeling and he told us, 'This is why this is so critical.' I think he is smiling down on this night and sharing it with us."
House Speaker Jase Bolger, a WMU alum, also gave opening remarks and said the Kalamazoo delegation gave a "team effort" in ensuring that WMU received the funds necessary to complete the project.
The cremains of WMU's second president, Paul V. Sangren, and his wife, Flossie, are interred behind a WMU seal, which was designed under his leadership, in the new building. Sangren was the president for 24 years of his 37-year career at WMU.
"Almost every student will have taken at least one class in this technologically-sophisticated building," said Dunn. "Not only will this building serve the community, it shows our commitment to the future of our state, nation and world."
KALAMAZOO GAZETTE COPYRIGHT 2012