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LSSU clears final legislative hurdle for new business building

Posted: August 6th, 2013

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University’s long talked about refurbishment of historic South Hall for its School of Business has cleared its final legislative hurdle and is on track to open for students in spring 2015.

The $12 million construction project was approved by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this month, with the state providing $9 million of the total cost and LSSU securing private donations for the remaining $3 million.

“We now have full approval for the state’s share of the funding for the renovation of South Hall, and we expect to start the project on our original timeline,” LSSU President Tony McLain told the university’s board of trustees during its meeting on campus today. “This was the only state building authority-financed construction that was approved this year, and it will be the university’s first major capital project in more than 10 years.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring semester 2014 and conclude the following spring. It includes two components. The first is renovation of the existing 32,000 sq. ft. building with original portions dating back to the early 1900s. The renovation will include much needed infrastructure upgrades, as well as classroom and office renovations. The project will include an addition of approximately 12,000 sq. ft. to connect the building’s original two wings and form an atrium that creates an interactive commons with an expanded café, new program rooms, and support space.

COMING SOON -- Members of the LSSU Board of Trustees and LSSU administration pose in front of South Hall with an architect's drawing of what the building will look like in about 18 months after a $12 million remodeling. The building, a former U.S. Army barracks which once held classrooms, office space, and the LSSU bookstore, will be the new home of the Lukenda School of Business. From left are LSSU trustees James Curran, Jenny Kronk and Gary Toffolo, with LSSU President Tony McLain and David Finley, dean of the LSSU College of Business and Engineering, holding the drawing, followed by LSSU Finance VP Sherry Brooks and trustees Ann Parker and Rod Nelson. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-quality copy of this photo is available at this link.

LSSU Vice President for Finance Sherry Brooks said now that the project has been authorized for construction, it moves to the final design phase with architect/engineering firm Cornerstone Architects of Grand Rapids. The project’s construction manager is DeVere Construction Co.

“We are looking forward to working with DeVere Construction again as they have served in this capacity for many higher education projects, including our own Arts Center,” Brooks said. “They most recently worked with Cornerstone on Sault Ste. Marie’s new city office building.

“From a finance and facilities perspective, this project does so much to enhance the financial position of the university,” Brooks added. “The infusion of $9 million from the state, plus $3 million from fund-raising efforts, will increase the university’s net assets by about 20 percent. In addition, we are able to bring sustainable and green design practices to the new design since we are re-using historical South Hall in the heart of the university’s academic core.”

LSSU Board Chair Jenny Kronk said the approval to proceed with the project is “great news…phenomenal news…for the university and our students,” a sentiment echoed by David Finley, dean of the LSSU College of Business and Engineering.

“Today is a great day in LSSU history, and we all have reason to be proud,” said Finley. “It takes a lot of individuals working together to make something like this happen, and we are pleased to see this important project going forward. With this vote of confidence from Lansing and a successful fundraising effort for the LSSU match, we are positioned to do great things for our students.”

Finley said the project is important to the region as well as LSSU’s students, as the university provides an economic impact to the area worth $113 million annually.

Tom Coates, executive director of the LSSU Foundation, said the university is very close to its goal of raising its $3 million match for the project.

“We are at $2.1 million in gifts and pledges, or 70 percent of our goal,” Coates said. “The South Hall project has brought out some first-time donors along with our tried-and-true friends of the university. Some longtime donors have made the largest donations they’ve ever made to the university in support of this project.”

McLain said the university owes its thanks to many people in Lansing for their assistance in getting the project approved.

“Our thanks go out to Brett Henderson and David Gregory of Kelley Cawthorne for their work in representing the university on this project as well as Rep. Frank Foster for his support and especially to Sen. Howard Walker for guiding us through the legislative process. Sen. Walker did a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ as this project was caught between two governors’ administrations.”

To find out more about the project, including how you may help to enable this important initiative, visit the South Hall Opportunity web page. -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,

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