EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University celebrated the opening of the newly renovated MSU School of Packaging building on April 20, following a fundraising campaign that raised more than $10 million.
“This significant expansion of our facilities, enabled by the generosity of donors and stakeholders, will reinforce MSU’s longstanding leadership in packaging education,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “These improvements anchor our commitment to the excellence of our School of Packaging and will help us prepare the next generation of leaders in packaging science.”
Established in 1952, the MSU School of Packaging was the first school of packaging in the United States and now is the largest packaging program in the country, with over 600 undergraduate and graduate students. Housed within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, or CANR, the School of Packaging consistently earns top rankings in its field across a wide range of rating platforms. It is the only school that offers a Ph.D. program in packaging and boasts 10,000 alumni worldwide.
“Each year our program graduates a large portion of all packaging engineers in the U.S.,” said Matthew Daum, MSU School of Packaging director and CANR assistant dean of corporate relations and strategy. “We have a long history of successful packaging alumni, and this renovated facility honors our legacy and positions us for continued excellence. The remodel was designed with collaboration in mind, not only for our students but with industry and nongovernmental organizations.”
Upgrades to the facility, which was last updated in 1986, will help MSU remain a leader in the packaging field. The School of Packaging Building renovation helps to modernize teaching and learning by adding flexible classrooms that seamlessly integrate technology. Collaboration-friendly spaces invite industry partners to engage with students, and the modernized facilities will attract faculty by providing the proper space and tools to conduct world-class research.
The Christman Company and TMP Architecture were selected as the construction and design firms, respectively. They worked collaboratively with the School of Packaging on making the vision for the new facility become reality. They were charged to redesign the building using the above goals, with natural light, accessibility, sustainability and durability at the forefront of the design. Construction began last spring and was commemorated with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The renovations were supported by commitments to the project totaling over $10 million from alumni and donors, including lead gifts from Amcor, Charles and Jackie Frasier and Ring Container Technologies.
- Amcor made a transformative gift to the School of Packaging to establish a partnership to create a modern, collaborative environment for students and faculty that will serve as a hub for sustainable packaging thought-leadership across industry, academia, governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The Amcor partnership also established the Amcor Endowed Chair in Packaging Sustainability. Rafael Auras has been named to this endowed chair with a focus on research and teaching in the areas of full lifecycle and environmental modeling and analysis, development of novel sustainable materials and solutions, and sustainability through leadership across all stakeholders in the packaging value chain.
- Charles and Jackie Frasier, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, made both the first gift to launch the renovation campaign and the last gift needed for the first phase of renovations to begin. The Charles L. and Jacqueline C. Frasier Atrium is a focal point at the building’s entry, and the Charles L. and Jacqueline C. Sustainability Lab will help advance the school’s research and data-driven approach for finding sustainable solutions and responsible end-of-life packaging innovations. Additionally, they committed another $1.5 million to endow a professorship through an estate gift.
- Ring Container Technologies provided support to renovate the main corridor, renamed the Ring Container Technologies Innovation Hall, re-imagined with collaboration in mind. The expanded space connects to the Frasier Atrium and welcomes both large and small groups of students, faculty and industry partners. This prominent space will quickly become a preferred gathering location, not only because of its various collaboration spaces, but also because of its comfortable, bright and modern design.
Gifts-in-kind of equipment were also essential to provide modernized technology to teach students the packaging industry standards of today and to research packaging and sustainability options for the future.
- IMV America, Inc., donated a custom-built, unique multi-axis vibration system for students and researchers to test and study the effects of vibration during product shipping. A vibration test system simulates the types of vibrations packages endure during handling, transportation and shipping. Traditional vibration tables are limited to a single vertical motion, but the IMV multi-axis system more accurately simulates complex motions such as pitch and roll.
- The Lansmont Corporation, part of the Physical Properties Testers, or PPT, Group extended its investment in packaging durability testing and research by donating test and measurement technologies for the Lansmont/PPT Group Laboratory. Their in-kind equipment donations will include a TruMotion Acceleration Sled system, updated data acquisition system, vibration table controller and software, shock table and controller, as well as next generation SAVER units.
- Specright’s gift helped to refresh the school’s computer lab for packaging students to better prepare for the workforce with hands-on technology training. The Specright Computer Lab includes new computers, monitors and furnishings in a remodeled computer lab setting. They also provided the Specright Specification Management software platform on all computers and extended their partnership to help develop an MSUshort course for packaging industry professionals to learn how to leverage specification data through analytics and digital tools.
Additional gifts included:
- Greg and Kathleen Hayes Graduate Commons Space to provide exclusive space for graduate student collaboration, meetings and breaks.
- The William J. and Mary Lou Sommerville Conference Room — in memory of former MSU President John Hannah and early influential packaging professors Harold J. Raphael and James Goff. The renovated conference room includes full video conferencing capabilities.
“Partnership is key for making a lasting impact in today’s society. I am very grateful for our individual and corporate donors who believe in the direction the School of Packaging is headed and joined us to make this remodel happen. Now we turn to the future and will continue to make progress for the packaging industry in the same manner that brought us to this point: through partnership,” Daum said.
This story was first published by the MSU College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.