By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Another century-old property on the Bowling Green State University is about to get a make-over thanks in part to a lawyer who owns a lot of property around Bowling Green.
The BGSU Board of Trustees Friday took the first steps to begin the $44.8 million project to convert Hanna Hall in the new home of the College of Business Administration.
The trustees approved spending $5.7 million in design and pre-construction services. These services include moving a fiber optic cable.
The trustees also approved the naming of the building the Robert W and Patricia A. Maurer Center in recognition of a “transformational gift” of $5 million toward the project.
The design work will begin later this year with the 22-month construction phase beginning in 2018. The building will open in fall, 2020.
Robert Maurer, who graduated from BGSU in 1965 with a degree in accounting before studying law at the University of Toledo, is a partner in partner of Maurer, Newlove, & Bakies. He and his wife own a number of commercial and residential properties in Bowling Green and the area.
Maurer told the trustees that he viewed the gift as “an investment.” He expects that investment will pay dividends not just to the university, but to the city of Bowling Green, the state and even the nation. “We’re proud to be part of it.”
Mrs. Maurer also attended BGSU.
The background information on the Maurer Center provided to the trustees states: “The over-arching goal of the building interior is to create an active space for faculty, students, and business professionals to engage, collaborate and grow. Interior spaces are visually accessible to each other, promoting interaction and awareness. Classrooms, labs, offices and collaboration spaces are intermixed on each floor in order to activate each level of the building and encourage informal and spontaneous learning.”
“This is just going to be incredibly cool,” said Sheri Stoll, vice president for administration and finance. “This is not going to be your buttoned-down, blue-suited college of business building. Think Pixar, think Disney.”
The current College of Business Administration will remain an academic building, said University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer.
The university expects to fund the project in part with $16 million in private gifts.
Three major donations by alumni were made for major spaces within the building.
Peggy Schmeltz donated $2 million dollars for the William F. and Peggy L. Schmeltz Atrium. The late William Schmeltz had served as dean of the college.
Paul and Margo Hooker donated $2 million to create the Sister Noreen Gray Student Success Hub. The hub is named for his aunt who after serving in World War II as a WAVE became a nun. She taught in the Toledo Public Schools and later worked in a Jamaican orphanage.
Michael and Mary Lee McGranaghan, donated $1 million to create the dean’s suite in honor of current Dean Raymond Braun.
The project will also benefit from gifts from four members of the board of trustees – Chair David Levey, Daniel Keller, David O’Brien, and Bruce Nyberg. Also donating to the project is R. Max Williamson, who chairs the BGSU Foundation Board of Directors.
Following recognition of the donors, Levey said: “I want to assure everyone in the audience, there are still rooms in the building.” And with the proper donation their names can be affixed to those rooms.
The Maurer Center would take its place in the Traditions Quadrangle, next to the Kuhlin Center, which houses the School of Media and Communication and at the south end of the line of the renovated University Hall and Moseley Hall, renovated buildings of a similar vintage that will open this coming fall.
The project represents a new life for Hanna Hall, which was open in 1921, after construction started in 1916. It originally opened as a training school, before being converted into classroom space in 1959.
The building also houses the Gish Film Theatre and the Ralph D. Wolfe Video Viewing Center.
Though not formally announced the plan is to move the theater and its exhibits on actresses Lillian and Dorothy Gish to the Student Union with the union theater being renamed in the Gish sisters’ honor, said President Mary Ellen Mazey.
The viewing center would go to Jerome Library.