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Expansion of Lyman Briggs College

Growth and Expansion

As part of Dr. Lou Anna Kimsey Simon's initiative to realize a new vision for the liberal arts and sciences at Michigan State University, the Lyman Briggs College of Science has been asked to plan to expand its student body by 25% over the next five years. Doing so will involve renovating Holmes Hall to create additional teaching and office space, increasing the size of the Briggs faculty, and working to maintain community cohesion and our strong ties to Residence Life. This page will include the latest information on the progress of these efforts, and also information on how alumni and friends of LBS can get involved.


To stay engaged with the future of Lyman Briggs, why not offer to host a gathering for alumni in your area? We can arrange for current Briggs faculty, staff, and students to attend and give a personal update on the exciting plans for the Briggs expansion. Contact LBC Dean Elizabeth H. Simmons if you're interested.
To help build an even stronger and more diverse student body as Briggs expands, why not be part of our recruiting efforts? Write to Debie Lecato ( to have your name, city, state, and e-mail address added to our list of alumni willing to answer questions from prospective Briggs students.

To ensure that the new lab renovations are done right, why not make a donation? MSU has offered to match 2:1 any donations LBS receives from individuals! It has been determined that there is a need for approximately $6M, in funds additional to our ongoing budget, to support the renovation of existing laboratories, the addition of two new ones, and the replacement of outdated teaching equipment. This investment is especially appropriate in the 21st century -- the century of biological sciences. Due to significant investment by MSU and the generosity of foundations and individual donors to date, we have secured all but about $190,000 of the needed funds.


FEBRUARY, 2007: The new high-tech teaching rooms W38 and W40 are now in use. Computers are being added to the learning lounges (through collaboration with the Holmes Manager's Office). Student recruitment for Fall 2007 is going well -- we anticipate having a full class of 625 freshmen again. Thanks to recent gifts, only $190,000 remains to be raised to cover the lab renovation costs.

DECEMBER 1, 2006: Funding for Phase 2 of the Lab Renovation. Of the $6M total cost of the project, only $250,000 remains to be raised. Donations of any size are helpful (especially given the 2:1 match from MSU).

SEPTEMBER 2006: The labs have been renovated! New biology labs C2, C3, C4, C5. New chemistry lab C6 and new lab prep room C12 are up and running, with the high-tech teaching rooms W38 and W40 to follow in the next few weeks. Students are using the 10 new Learning Lounges in the residence towers (created in partnership with the Holmes Manager's Office) daily for Briggs help-room sessions and informal study groups.

FEBRUARY 10, 2006: MSU Board of Trustees votes to appoint a construction manager for Phase 2 of the Lyman Briggs Lab renovations for summer 2006.  This $3M phase of the project will renovate Chemistry teaching lab C6; renovate Biology teaching labs C5, C4, and C3; build a new  Biology teaching lab in C2; and create a new prep lab space in C12.  New help rooms and study lounges will also be created in the Holmes Residence Towers.

JANUARY 2006: LBS receives an MSU Quality Fund grant to support personnel, furnishings, equipment, supplies, and renovations associated with the LBS Expansion.

OCTOBER 21, 2005 3-5 PM: The results of Phase 1 of the Lab Renovation will be shared with alumni and friends of Briggs at the Lyman Briggs fall open house! Contact Debie Lecato ( for details.

SEPTEMBER 2005: Phase 1 of the LBS renovation is complete. Faculty and staff have moved into eight new offices, and courses are starting to use the new Chemistry, Physics, and Prep labs. Active planning for Phase 2, including efforts to raise the remaining funds, is underway.

JULY 2005: Lyman Briggs College receives a $1.5 million gift from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and a $250,000 gift from the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation for renovation of the laboratories in Holmes Hall.

MARCH 2005: Contracts for Phase I constructions are out to bid. Work will begin in early May and be completed by August 9, 2005.

DECEMBER 2004: The construction is officially split into two phases. Phase 1, to be completed in summer 2005 includes building the new Physics lab in E-26a, creating a new Chemistry lab in C-7, renovating lab prep rooms C-13 and C-14, creating a small microscopy room in C-17b, building more faculty/staff offices in the East wing, and installing the new air-handling system for fume hoods and lab ventilation. This renovation will enable Briggs to accommodate 575 freshmen in fall 2005. Phase 2, anticipated for summer 2006, will include additional lab construction & renovation and more space for offices and classrooms. These additional facilities will be needed as the fall 2006 freshman class rises to 625 and the cohort of upperclassmen increases.

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2004: LBS science faculty and lab prep staff work with the architects to finalize detailed plans for the lab layouts.

Click for more information on layout of labsSEPTEMBER 2004: The MSU Board of Trustees approves the appointment of an architect (Lord-Aeck-Sargent,, an engineer (Peter Basso Associates, and a construction manager (Granger Construction, Mr. Greg W. Houghtaling of MSU's department of Engineering and Architectural Services serves as the Project Manager for the Lyman Briggs expansion. For a look at the current and planned layouts, click here...

SUMMER 2004: Dr. Simmons and LBS Associate Director, Dr. Steve Spees, meet with representatives of MSU's department of Facilities Planning and Space Management to discuss the space needs of an expanded Briggs and the costs of renovating the laboratories. It is determined that a new air-handling system will be required in order to add the additional fume hoods needed in the new chemistry and biology laboratories. Conversations with Ms. Angela Brown, Director of University Housing, lead to a plan whereby the freshman class will increase from the current 500 students to 575 in fall 2005 and then to the full 625 in fall 2006. Over the following three years, the full 25% expansion of Briggs will happen gradually as the larger freshman classes move up through the ranks.

Students in 35 yr old chemistry labMARCH/APRIL 2004: Dr. Elizabeth H. Simmons, Director of Lyman Briggs, issues a proposal for how to expand LBS while retaining its academic excellence and strong sense of community. The proposal draws on extensive conversations with LBS faculty, staff, and students, including a special meeting on diversity in an expanded LBS. The proposal is revised several times in response to requests for additional information from Provost Simon's office (latest version is on this site).

Major elements of the proposal include:

  • renovate all teaching laboratories and the laboratory preparation facility (now over 35 years old)
  • create a 2nd chemistry lab and 4th biology lab to accommodate the increased number of students
  • hire additional faculty in all areas to cover additional sections of all courses that will be required
  • hire an additional academic advisor and work closely with Admissions, James Madison and Honors College to recruit more out-of-state students
  • Executive Summary of Proposal
  • LBS proposal about expansion

FEBRUARY 2004: MSU Provost, Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon issues the report "Realizing the Vision." One item in the report is a proposed strengthening and enlargement of the Lyman Briggs and James Madison residential academic programs, and the addition of a third residential program focused in arts and humanities. The aims are to increase the proportion of MSU students who can benefit from belonging to a living-learning community and to attract more top-notch students from out of state. Lyman Briggs is directed to plan for a 25% expansion starting in fall 2005.

DECEMBER 2003: Dr. Marcellette Williams in the Office of the Provost convenes focus conversations among faculty and administrators to discuss the future of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at MSU. Several LBS faculty were invited to participate, and LBS wrote a letter to Dr. Williams in response to one focus conversation's query as to why LBS needed its own faculty.