Friends of East Campus - WMU Alumni


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To:     Officers, Board of Directors, Student Representatives and Members of The                     Friends of Historic East Campus.
From: David S. Brose, Chair
Date: 18 February 2011
Re:     East Campus RFP

After several weeks of discussion with Western Michigan University senior administration it has been formally agreed that, in my role as Chair of The Friends of Historic East Campus, I will be allowed access to information contained in the proposals submitted to Western Michigan University for the potential East Campus improvement project.

Western Michigan University has agreed to include me in frequent information updates regarding the ideas and proposals brought forward by the respondents, and I have likewise been invited to contribute my thoughts and ideas on the proposals to those at WMU who will be evaluating them.  Naturally, I expect my contributions will be shaped by input from theFriends of Historic East Campus and from its student representatives.

The agreement permits me to provide summary updates to the other Officers and members of the Board of Directors of The Friends of Historic East Campus; and while those updates cannot contain detailed information about the proposals or participants, they may include information that describes the types of ideas put forward in the proposals and the progress of WMU’s evaluation. 

The agreement also will permit FOHEC to advise its membership of this arrangement through our newsletter although after this initial discussion more detailed updates will be published in the newsletter upon completion of the RFP evaluation process and award of a contract.

As part of this arrangement, I have agreed not to disclose any "confidential information" regarding the proposals submitted for the improvement of Western Michigan University’s East Campus (this includes financial details of the proposals themselves, any confidential orproprietary corporate content contained in the proposal, the identity of any person or entity submitting any particular proposal, and any confidential information accompanying the transmission of the proposal).

As you are aware, the developers' proposals for the adaptive reuse of the buildings of the Historic East Campus are due to begin arriving on February 25th, and I am certain we all applaud this willingness on the part of the Western Michigan Administration to foster timely and appropriate communications with the community as represented by its long-dedicated advocates in FOHEC.   With them, we are committed to work collaboratively for the future of this historic place while we celebrate its past history.


by Duke Barron, Immediate Past Chair of the FOHEC

Those FOHEC members who find any part of the WMU RFP process unacceptable, please take action individually, and contact President Dunn, the WMU Board of Trustees, their own local newspaper or local radio talk show and make your concerns known.

The FOHEC Board would like to hear from our membership.  Do members want us to continue our mission to keep the focus on the buildings and remain silent on WMU's rejection of FOHEC's participation, or do you want us to take a more aggressive stance?

Meanwhile, we submit the following questions/comments to you, our members.

1. How were the RFPs issued or disseminated?

2. How widely were they disseminated? Locally, Statewide, Regionally, or Nationwide?

3. Eighty asked for more information and none were identified.

4. Twelve out of eighty who asked for more information sent a letter of interest. Were they local, regional, or out-of-state?

5. The twelve respondents were invited to visit the campus for one day, January 20, 2011.  How soon, or will we ever know, how many of the twelve showing interest     are interested enough to visit for that one day tour?

6. After the one day visit, serious responders will have two weeks and two days to    submit written questions. Does this sound like a reasonable interval and a        reasonably responsive way to deal with supposedly interested developers?

7. Serious responders will then have another two week and two day interval to          prepare and submit their proposal.  Again, is this reasonable and responsive?

8. Will tax-payers and university supporters have any knowledge of the process or     an opportunity to have an input and inquiry until the final decision on a project            and developer has been made?

9. What is the date for the final decision?

10. Indeed, who will make the final selection of both the developer and the specific    use of the East Campus that is ultimately approved?


Announcement of Request for Proposal

The Tuesday, October 19, 2010 edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette carried an announcement which the Friends of the Historic East Campus have awaited for years.  WMU has released a Request For Proposals (RFP) inviting developers to submit proposals for the renovation and reuse of the East Campus buildings.  This is excellent news for all of us who have followed the thirty-two year decay of the once proud campus.

All or some of East Hall, West Hall, North Hall, the Speech & Hearing and Vandercook buildings may be developed either for profit or not-for-profit uses, but any acceptable project must:

  • Be compatible with WMU's educational mission and goals;
  • Complement the City of Kalamazoo's new land use plans for the surrounding area;
  • Preserve the historical and architectural character of the buildings; and
  • Promote the educational and economic growth of the University and the community.

Of course, the successful proposal must also demonstrate financial viability.  The University will retain ownership of the land but ownership of the buildings can be transferred to the developers to allow them to take advantage of tax incentives and development tools that are available.  Questions and letters of interest will be accepted through 5p.m. (Eastern Time) Friday, January 7, 2011 and may be directed to Donald Penskar, WMU Director of Logistical Services at 269-387-8804 or Email:  Following a site visit, final proposals for Development must reach WMU by 5pm. (Eastern Time) Friday, February 25, 2011.




Letter to the Michigan House and Senate Leadership and the Chairpersons of the Sub-Committees on Higher Education Appropriations

July 17, 2009

Dear Senator Bishop,

In the next eight to ten weeks the legislature must come to agreement on a budget for the State of Michigan.  The pressure will be intense to balance long term negative consequences and short term expedients.  You have my gratitude as you undertake this difficult and often thankless task.

I am Chairman of The Friends of the Historic East Campus of Western Michigan University. We are a non-profit volunteer organization of about 1,000 members dedicated to the protection, preservation and productive use of the original buildings on the campus in Kalamazoo.

As we have gone about our work of advocating for the buildings, we have followed closely the decline in public support for higher education here in Michigan. In the past twenty years the shift in state funding has been from 65% funded in 1989 to only 36% funded in 2009.  The burden of educating the young men and women of Michigan at Western has been passed directly to the students and their families who now pay almost two-thirds of the cost.

Students from lower and middle income families are being priced out of access to advanced training and education. At the same time the people of Michigan are being told that, “an educated workforce is the engine that will drive our economic recovery.”

We cannot expect to have it both ways!  We cannot continue to see higher and higher tuition blocking attendance, and budget cuts putting pressure on universities to eliminate programs and even sacrifice quality and at the same time pinning our hopes on a mythical educational advantage that we will no longer have. This is a potential train wreck. What can we do to avoid it?

There is no simple or single answer. The solution will require a combination of belt tightening at the universities, serious reform of state government, search for new revenue, (we can’t forever rule out taxes) prudent cuts in spending and the recovery of revenues lost through tax exemptions, credits and deductions. 

Michigan loses almost $36 billion in potential tax revenue annually as a result of preferential provisions in the tax code.  Many of these exemptions are good public policy, like excluding food from the sales tax, but there must be others in that $36 billion that no longer are needed, have not produced the anticipated results or may produce no overall social benefit.

We are expecting that our legislators will carefully review the loopholes before cutting further support for our great university system or imposing any further reductions in student aid like the recent cut of funding for the Michigan Promise.  


Dick Barron – Chairman
Friends of the Historic East Campus
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008


Comments to the WMU Board of Trustees

Chairman Miller, Members of the Board, President Dunn.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the Friends of the Historic East Campus and to invite you to our next event, a Candidate Forum at the Little Theatre on Wednesday evening September 24.

My name is Dick Barron and I am Chairman of the Board of the Friends. We are an advocacy group dedicated to the renovation and    productive use of the original university buildings on Prospect Hill.  We have over 1,200 dues paying members across the nation. We are a diverse collection of students, staff, alumni, preservationists, campus neighbors, city officials and community leaders. The core value that binds us together is the belief that tradition and heritage make the image of a university and that, although tradition and heritage do not appear on the balance sheet, they are valuable assets and must be treasured and maintained.

Although we enjoy a close working relationship with Western Michigan University, we are totally independent and self-funded. For the past decade we have worked to create awareness of the historic and architectural value of the East Campus and the fragile vulnerability of these assets. As an organization we endorse no particular use for the buildings and we do not compete with the University in pursuing private or alumni funding. When the time for fund raising comes, The Friends can be counted on for support, but first, the many stakeholders who comprise the university must come together in support of an inspiring and sound vision for the best use of the buildings. We must have such a vision before anything else can happen.

We deeply appreciate the cooperation we have received from University personnel. From top to bottom they have been generous of their time and resources and, even more importantly, their support and understanding of our mission. We especially appreciate the advice we have received from leaders like Lowell Rinker, Greg Rosine and Bob Miller and the assistance from staff in Alumni Relations, The Archives, Campus Facilities, The Catering Office and so many others including individual faculty members and emeriti.  In everything from arranging parking for Board meetings to the timely sharing of critical information, we have enjoyed a positive and productive relationship.

Although The Friends have never wavered from our role as advocates for the East Campus, so have we never positioned ourselves as adversaries of the University. Advocates, yes, but never adversaries. That will not change!

My comments would not be complete without some mention of the activities of The Friends in support of Western Michigan University.  Our members have written over twenty Letters-to–the-Editor and Op-ed articles supporting Western on issues like Ballot Proposition #5 and the ill conceived tier funding proposal of last year. Our members have gone to Lansing to give testimony in support of Western to both the House and Senate committees on appropriations. We have held events on the East Campus with the objective of getting the community to the hilltop, most recently the celebration of President Waldo’s birthday ago and last year’s reception to welcome President and Mrs. Dunn.

 We have conducted surveys of the candidates for the state legislature from southwestern Michigan eliciting their positions on the importance of an educated work force, the method of allocating state funds and the inadequacy of the present level of state support. We have continued to lobby for the formation of a Southwest Michigan bi-partisan caucus supporting more equitable funding for Western.  We hold forums where candidates from the legislative districts surrounding Kalamazoo are asked pointed questions about their positions on these same issues.

As I mentioned, the next Forum will be Wednesday, September 24 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Little Theater on the East Campus. All six candidates have agreed to attend and Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First has agreed to serve as Moderator.

There should be no doubt that the Friends have repeatedly shown our loyalty to the University.  There should be no doubt that the Friends fully understand the chronic money crisis our University faces, BUT there should also be no doubt that the Friends do not intend to let today’s problems cause us to leave our past behind.

Concern for the East Campus did not originate with the Friends.
It has been an issue for much longer than just the past decade.  The last five Presidents have all been faced with the problem of what to do with the buildings.

 In spite of a forty-three year slide from bad to worse on the Hilltop, we remain optimistic. Our process of creating awareness continues. We are delighted with the decision to form a task-force to explore potential uses for the East Campus and opportunities to engage private partnerships. We believe Vice-President Rinker has shown great wisdom in reaching out to the community in the formation of the task force and in assigning David Dakin and Bob Miller to co chair the project. The Friends look forward to working as a part of the task force.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you about the Friends of the Historic East Campus. I hope that my comments have been helpful and informative. The Friends are here and ready to work with our University. I hope you will join us at the Forum on September 24.

September 12, 2008


Friends of East Campus
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5403 USA
| (269) 387-2794 Fax