Wayne State’s Board of Governors approved approximately $4.5 million for campus building renovations at its first meeting of the school year on Sept. 21.

In a unanimous vote, the BOG approved an increase in funding for the renovations of Chatsworth Residential Hall. The $860,000 increase brings the total cost of the renovations to over $28 million. 

“Chatsworth is important — and all of our housing,” Governor Sandra Hughes O’Brien said. “As we get more students on campus, where they live is at the utmost importance.” 

The renovations include the restoration of the exterior of the building, the demolition of floors two through nine and the construction of suite style residential spaces.  

The additional $860,000 will go toward building seven new apartments — one of which will house a community director — on the mezzanine floor and an American with Disabilities Act compliant ramp. 

Undergraduate enrollment rates were also addressed at the meeting. Rates have increased 14.5 percent from 17,322 to 17,602 students this semester. 

“The largest increase I’ve ever seen since I’ve been working here is 11 percent,” Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management, said. “We blew this out of the water.”

This semester also marked the largest freshman class in WSU history, Medley said. Of the freshman class, 32 percent are first-generation college students. 

Also approved at the meeting was the replacement of the heating water pipes of the 54-year-old Prentis Building. The flow of water is restricted in some parts of the building, causing it to not heat evenly. This project will cost around $1.3 million. 

It’s important to have an increase water flow of pipes due to Legionnaires’ (Disease),” Governor Marilyn Kelly said. In June, the bacteria that causes this disease, legionella, was found in three campus buildings

“If the pipes are corroded, I would recommend putting new pipes in so this (Legionnaires’ Disease) won’t happen again,” Governor David Nicholson said. 

Where students eat, sleep and learn is most important when it comes to renovations, O’Brien said. 

A new roof for the School of Social Work, the installation of three new air-handling units in the Elliman Research Building and the replacement of the heating pipes in Prentis will use up all of the Deferred Maintenance Fund, William Decatur, vice president for finance and business operations, said. 

The Deferred Maintenance Fund is used to pay for construction and infrastructure repairs at WSU. This fund will be replenished with $5 million on Oct. 1. 

“We have a lot of deferred maintenance that we haven’t been able to get to,” said O’Brien. “The need (to renovate) is more immediate.”

Also at the BOG meeting:

  • President M. Roy Wilson donating his $25,000 evaluation raise to WSU scholarships
  • The establishment of $3.5 million endowment funds to be used towards scholarships
  • Revision of WSU’s Tuition and Fee Regulations, allowing certain military members to cancel their tuition who are deployed during the semester
  • Money to relocate WSU offices that are currently located at the Horace H. Rackham Educational Memorial Building to the Prentis and Rands Building. 
  • The purchase of a $600,000 DNA Sequencing System. 

The next BOG meeting will take place on Dec. 7. 

Jack Filbrandt is a staff writer for The South End. He can be reached at jackfilbrandt31@gmail.com.

Cover photo by Jack Filbrandt.

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