Aerial rendering of campus plan

Michigan Tech Board of Trustees Votes to Adopt New Campus Master Plan

A bird’s-eye rendering of Michigan Tech’s new campus master plan.

The Board of Trustees for Michigan Technological University has voted unanimously to adopt a new campus master plan to guide the University in its growth to 2035 and beyond.

After two years of community input and discussion, the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees voted to adopt the University’s campus master plan at its meeting Friday, Oct. 7. According to the resolution presented to the Board, the plan represents a “collection of ideas that establishes a flexible, realistic, and multiple-decade framework for coordinating facility improvements across the institution.” While adjustments to the plan are anticipated as a natural facet of long-range planning, and while initiation of specific projects will remain individually subject to Board approval, the campus plan will serve as a beacon to guide Tech as it continues its steady rise as Michigan’s flagship technological university. 

Michigan Tech President Rick Koubek said the campus master plan is a necessary vision document for the University, which is on track to meet its goals for measured growth, including increases in student enrollment, faculty recruitment and research expenditures, along with a $300 million endowment. “The campus master plan presents a collective vision from our students, staff and faculty about the future of Michigan Tech and the facilities we will put in place to support that vision,” said Koubek. “We are grateful to the Board of Trustees for their support and confidence as we implement this plan for Michigan Tech.”

The news comes just weeks after Michigan Tech welcomed its second-largest incoming class of first-year students since 1984, who boast the highest academic credentials in school history. Likewise, Tech recorded its second-highest fundraising total ever last year, along with the highest number of research expenditures in University history, projected to be up 16% from last year’s record. Also, since its official groundbreaking in April, construction is well underway on the new H-STEM Complex, which will house state-of-the-art teaching and research labs for health-related STEM studies and will, like the Great Lakes Research Center before it, serve as a model for future transdisciplinary educational centers constructed on campus. 

The collaborative two-year process included multiple campus visits from representatives of SmithGroup, a five-decade partner of Michigan Tech since authoring the University’s initial campus master plan in 1966. The inclusive design process facilitated by SmithGroup involved 25 stakeholder listening sessions, a student life survey that garnered 919 responses, a campuswide survey that garnered 2,281 responses, a virtual town hall with over 275 participants, an online forum and many meetings of the MTU steering and advisory committees. 

Among the opportunities identified in the plan development was the desire among stakeholders to align the University’s facilities with its sterling reputation and create spaces for collaboration that put technology on display. To make the most of these opportunities, the plan encourages efficient use of limited land. The outcome will be a sustainable, innovative Michigan Tech campus with state-of-the-art facilities designed to celebrate outdoor space, create a public realm and engage the waterfront. 

West Gateway
A view of the west gateway into campus in Michigan Tech’s new campus master plan. 

The campus master plan will be implemented in phases, beginning with extensive renovations of existing classrooms and laboratories. “During the planning process, we heard from our community that upgrading the educational and instructional environment for our students and faculty was of primary importance,” said Dave Reed, Michigan Tech’s vice president for research. “We listened, and we worked with SmithGroup to get renovations of classrooms and classroom labs to the top of the priority list.” 

Reed said the renovation program for classrooms and classroom laboratories will be the first phase, and will be financed by a University bond issue. “Advancement is also working with a number of individuals and organizations to support various components of the campus plan implementation as well,” added Reed. 

One highlight in the plan is the Center for Convergence and Innovation, which will house the College of Computing and the College of Business. “By co-locating computing and business in the same building, the Center for Convergence and Innovation will serve as the cornerstone of Michigan Tech’s efforts to meet the workforce demands and entrepreneurial innovations in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Dennis Livesay, dean of the College of Computing. “As the world’s markets and economies continue to respond to digitalization, there will be an increasing need for digitally savvy and agile workers who are able to design and implement solutions to emerging problems. The Center for Convergence and Innovation helps position Michigan Tech as a national leader in the training of computing and business professionals who seamlessly integrate both domains.”

To address the additional housing needs of a growing university, the campus plan calls for a new residence hall to be constructed. “Our plan calls for smart, measured enrollment growth that responds to both the increasing number of students wanting to enroll and the enthusiasm from employers who hire our graduates,” said John Lehman, vice president for university relations and enrollment. “This plan includes considerations to expand on-campus housing in the same smart, measured manner.”

The campus master plan is one of four key initiatives Michigan Tech will launch this year, including a national student recruitment campaign, a hiring initiative for faculty and staff, and the initiation of a capital campaign. The plan will be presented in various forums across campus this fall. 

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.