Officials cut ribbon for Mike Ilitch School of Business

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — When students arrive next week at the new Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, they’ll sit in classrooms with breathtaking views of the city's downtown skyline down Woodward Avenue.

With most classes held in the evening, the city will be illuminated by the warm glow of dusk light, said Jennifer Emerick, construction project manager for Christman-Brinker.

Its hallways feature places for students to study and hang out. Student groups will have their own dedicated spaces for meetings.

“This building is really geared for the students so it’s great,” Emerick said.

Several classrooms have clear views of downtown Detroit at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

Officials gathered for a ribbon cutting Tuesday for the 125,000-square-foot building at 2771 Woodward Ave. The building was made possible by a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch prior to Mike Ilitch’s death. It was the largest gift in history to the university.

“Mike and Marian Ilitch have provided Wayne State students with a world-class environment to learn, connect and dream,” said Chris Ilitch, the couple's son who is president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings. “Graduates from the Mike Ilitch School of Business will propel Detroit’s incredible resurgence for many years and will continue the incredible legacy of Mike and Marian Ilitch.”

Lauren McCree will be among the 4,000 students, faculty and staff to walk through the halls of the new business school when it opens its doors for fall classes on Aug. 29.

The 23-year-old picked Wayne State University to for its new sport and entertainment management program.

“When I saw this opportunity with the business school and all these big things happening in Detroit, I said I need to come home,” said McCree, a native Detroiter who briefly lived in Virginia. “It just felt right so now I’m here. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to get my higher education.”

In addition to the views, the four-story building features a roof terrace with a garden, a two-story atrium and room for pop-up retail. Avalon Bakery will open a cafe in the building with an entrance on Woodward. 

The building's 260-seat Lear Auditorium can accommodate full-sized vehicles for the university's partners in the auto industry. At the street level, a finance and data analytics lab features a Wall Street-style LED stock ticker. The lab also has multiple Bloomberg terminals and databases.

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said the building fulfills the vision for a building that's opening and welcoming in a location that serves as an asset for students.

"There are no steps coming up here," he said. "There is no ivory tower here. This is just a welcoming, very-well-designed building that welcomes the community and is a part of the community. ... It's really not just about the building. The curriculum and how being right here offered an opportunity to students to truly take advantage of the proximity to arguably the best and the greatest sports and entertainment complex in this entire country and to be able to have those opportunities for internships."

Developers broke ground on the project in July 2016 in District Detroit, which is north of Little Caesars Arena. Contractors from Detroit made up nearly 40 percent of those working on the project, officials said.

Since the project was first announced in October 2015, graduate MBA enrollment increased by 65 percent and total school enrollment increased by 30 percent to more than 4,000 students, said Bob Forsythe, dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business. Faculty and staff moved into the building earlier in the summer.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN