Dunbar Hall to be transformed in $40 million renovation project

Contact: Paula M. Davis
Corner view of Dunbar Hall.

Dunbar Hall

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dunbar Hall, one of Western Michigan University's most heavily used classroom buildings and home to more than a dozen academic programs, will undergo $40 million in renovations, funded in large part through state capital outlay dollars. 

Some $30 million from the state of Michigan and $10 million in funding raised by the University, including through philanthropic support, will pay for the renovation. 

Former state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, before her term ended in 2018, led the effort to secure this outlay funding to extensively modernize Dunbar Hall.

"We celebrate this major project funding finally coming to fruition and thank Tonya Schuitmaker and all the members of our local legislative delegation who helped make the case for the need," says WMU President Edward Montgomery.

The project is set to begin in spring 2020, and University officials expect it to be completed in time for fall classes in 2022.

Internal renovations slated

The overhaul of the nearly 50-year-old, 78,000-square-foot building in the academic core of campus includes completely reconfigured classroom layouts, additional student workspaces and major technology upgrades to bring teaching and learning spaces up to the latest standards. 

"The building's interior and systems are well beyond their normal lifespan," says David Dakin, WMU's director of campus planning, space management and capital projects. 

Classroom in Dunbar Hall.The renovation also includes all new electrical, mechanical, heating and cooling, fire suppression, and alarm systems. 

Dunbar Hall is home base for the College of Arts and Sciences and is used by many other WMU units. The second most-utilized teaching facility on campus, in the 2018-19 academic year alone, the building will have hosted a total of 605 course sections and more than 17,000 students.

"Without a doubt, we will benefit from having modern technology in classrooms that will allow our faculty to use innovative, active learning strategies that are difficult to implement in small classrooms designed in the late 1960's," says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

 In addition to academic programs, classrooms and computer labs, the building also houses WMU's media services department, production studios for broadcasting and other University programs. 

When the newly modernized facility comes online in 2022, it will be energy efficient, designed for sustainability and renovated with the intent to achieve LEED gold certification, Dakin says.  

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