Ferris State pumps $35M into student center renovation


The Rankin Student Center at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Courtesy Ferris State University

Ferris State University is about to begin one of its most significant renovation projects ever.

The university’s board of trustees recently approved spending $35 million toward renovation of the Rankin Student Center at the Big Rapids campus. About $16 million is already on hand to finance the project, with the rest of the funding expected to come through tax-exempt bonds.

The work is slated to begin in May and be completed by Aug. 1, 2014.

“It is certainly a significant project and one of the most significant renovations for the Big Rapids campus,” said Jerry Scoby, FSU vice president of administration and finance. “Part of the design is to create a modern facility that will facilitate the building community, bringing faculty, students and staff together –– and to do a better job at having a place that commuter students can call home.”

The current facility is outdated, navigationally uncomfortable and not serving the student needs, Scoby said. The oldest part of the building was constructed in 1957 before later additions came along in 1960 and 1987.

Renovation includes expansion, Scoby said, adding that the re-design will likely be about 15 percent larger in size than the current 110,000-square-foot center. It also means the demolition of vacant residence halls Carlisle and Masselink to create more parking space for guests, staff and students, particularly commuter students, he said.

The re-design will feel very modern, he said, complete with an updated campus bookstore, expanded food court and more space in which commuter students can relax or study.

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