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July 5, 2019

Historic building gets new life for agricultural economics studies

Thanks to a gift from Michigan State University alumnus Gary Seevers, one of the oldest remaining buildings on campus has stepped into the modern era while still maintaining its historic charm.

Located on the northeast side of campus, Cook Hall was constructed in 1889. It is part of MSU’s historic Laboratory Row – six buildings constructed between 1888 and 1909. For more than 50 years it has housed graduate students from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Renovations began in February 2018 and were completed just before the beginning of 2019.

“It’s clear that this building, department and college had a transformative effect on Gary’s life and his career, and he in turn through his generosity has been able to affect transformative change on the students and staff who study and work here,” said Ron Hendrick, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Seevers’ $3 million gift allowed for restoration of the ceilings, walls, woodwork and period lighting to preserve the building’s historic origins. Other improvements include multifunctional gathering spaces, break-out areas to foster interaction and collaboration and higher quality and functionality of meeting, research and study space. Also, the building is now completely accessible with the addition of a barrier-free entrance, restrooms and elevator.

Originally known as Entomology on Laboratory Row, in 1969 the building was named in honor of Albert J. Cook, an 1862 MSU graduate and one of the leading economic entomologists of his time. Following the renovation, the building is now called Cook-Seevers Hall. The last remaining building to be renovated on Laboratory Row is Old Botany.

During his time at MSU, Seevers studied animal science and agricultural economics and received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. His previous support for MSU includes a $600,000 gift to establish a scholarship fund in MSU’s Honors College, where he was also a student. Seevers partnered with the late MSU President Gordon Guyer to create the Guyer-Seevers faculty chair position in Natural Resource Conservation by providing a seed $1.25 million cash gift. He later designated an additional $2 million to support both the scholarship and chair position through a gift from his estate.