By Alex Maggos and Jack Mennicke

Students at Western Michigan University’s main campus are trying to be patient after three years of construction heads into a fourth year for two major capital projects that interrupt the flow of pedestrian traffic, campus eateries, classrooms and meeting spaces.

The new $99 million student center, which resides in the south side of campus within the new Hilltop Village, will have 162,000 square feet that includes eight micro-restaurants, an art gallery showcasing students’ work, a dozen meeting rooms, a Starbucks and an on-campus bar.

The student center is anticipated to be completed by January 2023 and a $40 million renovation of Dunbar Hall should be completed by January 2024. Both projects started in 2019.

This week, the Dunbar renovation work included installing the steel frame for the structure for a new top-floor dance studio. Also, framing for a new addition on the south side of the building is set to begin. Dunbar Hall, which was built in 1971, is approximately 78,000 square feet and will move up to 89,000 with the renovation.

The current student center, Bernhard Center, is used for a variety of different things but since WMU officials were anticipating the opening of the new student center, many offices, shops and eateries in the current center are shut down or temporarily moved. Students of WMU use the Bernhard Center for studying, eating and as a place for meeting but since they were planning on moving, they don’t have access to certain offices and restaurants that once resided in the lower level of the “Bronco Mall” in the Bernhard Center.

To see updates of the student center construction, go to the WMU construction webcam: To see webcam updates of the Dunbar Hall renovation:

Trucks, generators, and bobcats fill the parking lot as construction continues on the new student center. Hannah Babinski, in her seventh year at WMU, says she is “upset because this was supposed to have happened already and it keeps getting pushed back. So, anticipation.” The opening has been postponed until spring 2023.

Worker at University Bookstore

Inside the current student center is the University Bookstore where students purchase books, supplies, technology and apparel. Student and employee Hannah Babinski, 24, says the store will move as soon as possible, but “we won’t move if it’s in-between semesters.” She says she is already guaranteed a job at the new bookstore. She will help move the inventory when the new building opens.

close-up of typing

The current student center acts as an easy  place for meeting, studying, or grabbing something to eat. The new student center features eight different restaurants, a Starbucks and various meetings rooms that double as a social meeting place for students.

closed down biggby coffee

Located in the lower level of the current student center is a permanently-closed Biggby Coffee.

students eating

Students use the current student center as a hangout spot and somewhere to eat. First-year student Jack Lumsden says, “This is my second time coming but I think I’m going to come as much as possible because it’s very short distance and the pizzas better.”

The $99 million new student center is slated to be done by January of 2023 after being pushed back from its original completion date of fall 2022l. This has left many WMU students and staff frustrated. “It is disappointing it isn’t open yet,” says Alexandra Kasprzy.


The construction of Dunbar Hall, which is located right next to Brown Hall off Van De Giessen Road, is estimated to be completed a year after the student center, in January 2024. The project will cost a total of $42.7 million and is aimed to house a new media center, high-tech classrooms and meeting spaces.


Director of Marketing Outreach for the Western Student Association Alexandra Kasprzyk is not all that surprised by the delays in the student center. “I anticipated it wouldn’t be open when they said it would be open,” Kasprzyk says. Meeting rooms in the new center are allocated for the WSA, Kasprzyk says.


The new building will get an additional 11,000 square feet of glass compared to the former Dunbar Hall. The glass will branch out from the metal supports seen in this picture.


Junior WMU student Stiven Reci is a civil engineer student who thinks the new student center looks beautiful and can’t wait for it to open. “As a civil engineer student and working in the industry of construction I understand there are supply chain issues. Nevertheless, I have to say that I am frustrated.”


Members of the crew discussing sizing ideas for the roof. They are working in an area at the back of the new student center.



Fencing placed specifically for the construction blocks off a lot of area on the WMU campus. Students find it hard to maneuver through the campus and around the construction staging.