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April 21, 2023

MSU breaks ground on first standalone multicultural center 

Michigan State University students will soon have a place on campus that will foster cultural and intellectual curiosity and understanding in a supportive, welcoming environment. 

University leadership, with shovels in hand and a little elbow grease, broke ground today on a first-of-its-kind 34,000-square-foot multicultural center northeast of the intersection of North Shaw and Farm lanes. The ceremony was attended by students, faculty, staff and other community stakeholders.  

“It is an honor to be a part of this historic day on our campus,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “This building, once complete, will represent the diverse, woven fabric that makes up our great institution — harnessing shared cultural experiences through storytelling, discovery and exploration for generations of Spartans to come.” 

Over the next month, construction crews will begin excavating the site and pouring the building’s concrete foundation. A live camera feed of the ongoing construction is available to follow the building’s progress. 

Planned features of the new multicultural center include: 

  • Outdoor amphitheater  
  • Collaboration spaces, including a large living area 
  • Office space for student organizations 
  • Prayer rooms 
  • Art gallery wall 
  • Resource center to help students with academic, mental health and other needs 

“The building that will soon stand here today answers decades of calls from students who have continuously advocated for a free-standing multicultural center,” said MSU Board of Trustees Chair Rema Vassar, Ph.D. “Today, we begin adding another layer of inclusivity to our campus with the new center serving as a catalyst for embracing change, promoting acceptance, and encouraging growth among one another.” 

The building’s design and layout processes were facilitated by SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading design firms. Embracing inclusivity, part of the process included input and feedback from numerous student and community stakeholders through a series of community engagement sessions

“I applaud the commitment of MSU’s senior leadership in ensuring student and stakeholder engagement throughout the feasibility and design processes,” said Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D. “The building is truly a reflection of our shared values and commitment to providing a world-class academic environment where diversity, equity and inclusion is not only integrated but also celebrated.” 

Advocacy efforts for a free-standing multicultural center on campus date back several decades. The university’s first multicultural center opened in 1999 in the basement of the MSU Union and moved to the second floor in 2013. Since then, student leaders have continued to advocate for a standalone building on campus. 

“This day wouldn’t be possible without the generations of student leaders who came before us and tirelessly advocated for change,” said Miracle Chatman, MSU alum and former co-chair of Students for a Multicultural Building. “The building creates a linkage between past generations of student activists and future generations who will continue to fight for inclusivity, cultural belonging and institutional support on campus." 

"Marginalized students often struggle to find spaces they can feel at ease in, so this is an opportunity for students to define a space as their own and create a welcoming, vibrant home on campus,” said Asian Pacific American Student Organization President Sujin Lee. “Asian Pacific Islander Desi American and Asian students, especially those in APASO, struggle to find spaces on campus to host events, socialize and study, so this building could be a space where they can consistently come back to on campus." 

Construction of the new multicultural center will cost approximately $38 million, which will be funded through general revenue bonds. 

“The new MSU multicultural center will be a facility that exemplifies MSU’s commitment to student success,” said Vennie Gore, senior vice president for Student Life & Engagement. “The center will allow students to express their own individuality while also learning about others in a culturally rich environment.” 

The MSU multicultural center is expected to be completed by the fall semester of 2024.

Watch a fly-through video of an artistic rendering of the center created by SmithGroup.

By: Mark Bullion

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