The Wayne State University Board of Governors unanimously approved the next steps for State Hall’s renovation, which has been closed since 2019, at its first meeting of the year held via Zoom on Friday. 

WSU Design and Construction Services will now hire a construction manager and design firm, not exceeding $6 million, according to the request

“State Hall, as you know, has been on the docket for a renovation for some time,” Facilities Planning and Management Associate Vice President Robert Davenport said. “When we know what the pricing will be for the project, we will come back to the board for complete funding. We do expect this project to be somewhere in the $70 to $80 million range.”

The BOG also approved a modernization of the McGregor Memorial Conference Center elevators, at a cost not exceeding $695,000. The project is necessary due to the scarcity of current parts, Davenport said.

“Our main kitchen for the entire campus is in the basement of McGregor and in order to get food across campus we need that elevator to be working flawlessly,” Davenport said. 

Other elevator repairs will be made on-campus throughout the 2021 fiscal year, Davenport said. Last year, a study of all WSU elevators was completed to understand their condition and cost of replacement.

“Do know that we've got north of $62 million in elevator repairs that need to be made, so we've got quite a task in front of us,” he said. 

Assistant Dean of Global Affairs in the School of Medicine Dr. Marcus Zervos and Associate Professor and Director of Research at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dr. Paul Kilgore presented at the meeting, discussing research regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Kilgore and Zervos are co-principal investigators on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the late-stage testing of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Detroit.

In March, WSU helped lead the fight against COVID-19 in Detroit, Zervos said: expanding testing, contact tracing, bringing first responders back to work, helping in homeless shelters and nursing homes. 

The future provides many opportunities, but also many challenges, Zervos said. 

“We will continue to build on our expertise to not only do the research that is necessary but also do the work to strengthen public health,” Zervos said. “We have a very unique collaboration between the universities, the hospitals, the community, health departments, mayor's office which is really a model for others. We'll continue to build on these relationships and Wayne State University will continue to be a leader nationally in this work." 

This was the first BOG meeting for Governor Terri Lynn Land, who was elected in November. Governor Shirley Stancato, who was appointed to the BOG by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019, was also elected in November. The BOG unanimously voted to elect Governor Marilyn Kelly and Governor Mark Gaffney to one-year terms as the BOG's chair and vice-chair. Kelly has served as the BOG’s Chair since being appointed in 2019.

“I'd just like to thank my colleagues and the board for electing me chair. I'm eager to serve again,” Kelly said. “Certainly, this past year has been a really challenging one. Most of us are happy to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and welcome in a new year. So the start of 2021 is a perfect time, I think, to reflect on the past and to frame intentions for the future.”

Arben Gacaferi is a correspondent for The South End. He can be reached at

Nour Rahal is news editor at The South End. She can be reached at

Cover photo by Guneet Ghotra. She can be reached at