Traverse City News and Events

NMC's $34 Million Facelift

By Beth Milligan | Aug. 7, 2017

Much of the Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) campus is a construction zone this summer. A 21st-century residence hall is almost finished, and the completion of a glass-walled addition to the Dennos Museum that will double the amount of display space isn’t far behind.

The biggest project hasn’t even commenced: construction of a new library and “innovation center” is set to begin in the spring and will cap $34 million in projects that will transform the campus.

As Patrick Sullivan writes in this week's Northern Express - sister publication of The Ticker - the projects come amid declining enrollment and strife between administrators and the school’s faculty unions. NMC President Tim Nelson says the projects are necessary to make the school resilient for the future. He believes that in order to offset declining enrollment, the school needs to attract students from across Michigan and around the world.

North Hall, an $8 million, three-story building (pictured), will house 136 students in 36 four-bedroom suites. That means each student gets their own room. There are laundry facilities, a fitness center, and study rooms on the second and third floors. “These are set up with four bedrooms, each with their own locks, two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and the facility has an attached fitness center that’s usable by the people in the residence hall and also the rest of the college community,” Nelson says.

North Hall is scheduled to open this fall at the north end of campus. For three years, the school rented a nearby motel, located south of campus, to house students. Nelson is pleased the school can now offer a modern dormitory.

“We were renting that because we were at capacity,” Nelson says. “Those rooms served our purpose for what we needed at the time, but it really wasn’t what our students would be looking for. As a long-term solution, they are hotel rooms, and what we built in North Hall has the ability for students to cook — and our international students, they look for that type of amenity, to be able to cook their own dinner when they want to.”

The new-and-improved Dennos is also slated to be complete this fall, with the museum opening to the public in November. “I think it’s going to be an amazing facility. I go through there about every two weeks,” Nelson says. “It was already a world-class facility, but these additions, I think people are going to be blown away.”

What’s currently dubbed the West Hall Innovation Center and Library is expected to break ground in spring 2018. The $21 million project will replace the decades-old Osterlin Library and aspires to become the heart of NMC’s campus, Nelson says. “Our vision for that is that it can be open 24/7, and people can use the library, they can use the meeting rooms, there will be access to food,” Nelson says. “It will be a place where students and community groups can…create more of a community center.” The new facility will be built around the existing cafeteria, book store, veterans’ conference room, study area, and the WNMC radio station.

Read more about the transformation of NMC's campus in this week's Northern Express story, "NMC's $34 Million Facelift." The Northern Express is available to read online, or pick up a copy at one of nearly 700 spots in 14 counties across northern Michigan. 

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