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Groundbreaking set for Lee Honors College addition

by Cheryl Roland

June 7, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Construction on a $1.7 million addition to Western Michigan University's Lee Honors College is about to get under way with a formal groundbreaking set for 12:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at the college.

Members of the WMU Board of Trustees and WMU officials, including President John M. Dunn and Lee Honors College Dean Nicholas Andreadis will be joined in the brief ceremony by longtime honors college supporter Carl E Lee, who was president, general manager and owner of Fetzer Broadcasting Service of Kalamazoo, and by two Lee Honors College students. The groundbreaking is set for the college's outdoor patio shortly after the Board of Trustees concludes its morning meeting.

Photo of artist's rendering of expanded Lee Honors College Building.
Artist's rendering of the soon-to-be-expanded Lee Honors College Building

The privately funded addition to the 21-year-old building will launch a project that will double the number of classrooms in the facility, renovate an existing student lounge, create a small library and add a seasonal outdoor classroom with amphitheatre-style seating. In addition, the project will infuse the entire honors college facility with state-of-the-art instructional technology.

"Enrollment growth, phenomenal growth, is what's driving this project," says Andreadis, who notes that 1,000 students were members of the college in fall 2008 and 1,400 are expected to be enrolled this fall. "Last year, we had our largest ever enrollment in the college and we are on target this year to surpass that number for this fall.  In the past three years, the college's enrollment has grown by 40 percent."

WMU's Lee Honors College is one of the oldest and most highly regarded collegiate honors programs in the nation. The college serves as academic home to more than 1,400 top students from around the nation who are enrolled in disciplines across WMU. For incoming freshmen, admission to the Lee Honors College is by invitation only. High school students who are accepted to WMU receive an invitation to join the honors college if they have an ACT composite score of at least 26 and a GPA of 3.6. The credentials of a typical class of honors college freshmen equal or surpass the credentials of students at the most elite private colleges in the state and nation.
In addition to entering freshmen, the college accepts top transfer students and also enrolls high-performing WMU students who may not have joined the honors college as freshmen.

"We're seeing growth in the number of qualified students in disciplines campuswide," Andreadis says. "Right now our biomedical science students have the largest representation in the college, but engineering is the fastest growing discipline to be represented."

Andreadis says WMU's outreach over the past few years has emphasized quality indicators like the University's Carnegie classification as a research university and its role as the site of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

"Students and families are realizing that WMU offers a great option," he says.

WMU established its honors program in 1958 and over the years the program evolved into a college. The college's home facility was named for Carl E Lee and his wife, Winifred. The Lees helped build the college's 8,400-square-foot-building, which was completed and dedicated in 1990.