Big changes coming to campus

An architectural rendering of the outdoor plaza. / Photo courtesy of Detroit Mercy Advancement



For the first time in a half century, the Student Union at Detroit Mercy will be expanded and renovated.

Construction is expected to begin in May and be finished within a year.

It will be followed by the demolition of Fisher Building and Reno Hall, improvements to several academic buildings and the erection of an apartment building for students, according to university President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi.

The improved union will include a new student lounge; offices for admissions, student life and financial aid; and a showplace outdoor plaza.

The union building “will be extended where the President’s Dining Room steps are located,” said Garibaldi. “We are going to build out over that, looking towards Livernois and The Quads.  

It is a historic moment for the university – a commitment to the university’s growth, several officials said.

Built in 1955 and enlarged 15 years later, the union includes the Titan Dining Room, Campus Ministry, the bookstore, Grounds Coffeehaus, a ballroom and various other facilities and offices.

News of the project comes after the university reached a major goal, securing $115 million in its Build a Boundless Future campaign, some of which will go toward construction.

“When we started this campaign, we had three primary areas,” said the president. “The first top area was scholarships for students. Our goal was $40 million. We were able to raise $41 million. The second area was academic programs. We were able to raise over $25 million. Facilities was at $25 million, but we were only able to raise $15 million. We are currently in fundraising mode to raise more money for the facilities on campus.”  

Bonds and loans also will be used to pay for the project.

Arnold D’Ambrosio, vice president for university advancement, said that Fisher and Reno have become inefficient buildings and that razing them will save money.

“We will be reducing our deferred maintenance cost by over $43 million,” he said. 

The Student Union will create a one-stop area for prospective students and their parents.

“We are going to move everyone in the Fisher Building into the newly renovated Student Union and a few places around the campus,” said Garibaldi. “The admissions office, financial aid, registration office and student accounting will be placed in the Student Union. We want to use our space more wisely.”

After Fisher and Reno have been demolished, a green space will be created with plenty of tress for students and parents to enjoy while walking around campus. 

“We have plans to add apartments in the campus  and part of it will be in the footprint where Reno Hall is currently,” said the president. “The apartments will be for the upperclassmen on campus.”  

Dennis Carlesso, executive director of development, said plans do no call for dining room changes.

“As of right now, TDR and The Loft will remain the same,” he said.  

There may be more food stations just like The Bookmark in the library for students in the updated student center, said Carlesso. 

The university has acquired land south of the campus, outside the current fence near Puritan Road.

It will eventually be turned into a green space for students.

Gary Lichtman, director of media relations, has worked on campus since 1993. He said he has witnessed numerous changes.

“It’s amazing to see how the campus has evolved over the years,” he said.

And how it will be evolving in the years to come. 

A rendering of the new Student Union lounge. / Photo courtesy of Detroit Mercy Advancement