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MSU approves $335M medical research center in Detroit

A rendering of the Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center in Detroit.
Michigan State University
A rendering of the Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center in Detroit.

Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new biomedical research center in Detroit at its meeting on Friday. Officials also weighed in on concerns of MSU’s investments in Israel and the release of university documents regarding its investigation of Larry Nassar to state law enforcement.

During its last meeting of the semester, the board unanimously voted to spend $335 million to build the 335,000 square foot medical facility in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

The research center, a cornerstone of a 30-year agreement signed in 2021 between Henry Ford and MSU, is poised to become the university’s largest research facility yet.

“With the approval of the Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University Research Center, we are setting the stage for a future where health care innovation, education and community involvement come together,” said MSU Board of Trustees Chair Dan Kelly.

 MSU President Kevin Guskiewicz
Michelle Jokisch Polo / WKAR
MSU President Kevin Guskiewicz addresses the Board of Trustees Friday, April 12.

“This investment pushes the boundary of medical knowledge and signifies a commitment to advancing biomedical research and MSU’s commitment to the people of Detroit and the broader Michigan community.”

During his inaugural board meeting, MSU President Kevin Guskiewicz praised the board for creating opportunities to grow the university’s research in cancer, neuroscience, immunology and public health.

“As Spartans, collaborating to advance the common good is in our DNA, and we look forward to working with our partners to address health equity and other grand challenges of our time,” said Guskiewicz.

Construction on the research center is expected to begin in mid-May with an anticipated opening in 2027.

The research center is part of Henry Ford’s $3 billion “Future of Health” project that includes a new hospital tower as well as three mixed-use, mixed-income residential buildings. Last month, the Detroit City Council approved $296 million dollars in state and local tax incentives over 35 years for the project.

MSU’s review of investments

At the board meeting, trustees said they are continuing to review the school’s foreign investment portfolio but declined to restrict its financial holdings in Israel.

“Divestment would conflict with stewarding the institution's financial health would increase investment risk and limit returns and jeopardize the assurance that resources will continue to be available now and for future generations,” said MSU Trustee Sandy Pierce.

Protestors call for Michigan State University to divest from Israel Friday, April 12.
Protestors call for Michigan State University to divest from Israel Friday, April 12.

The announcement follows months of student and faculty outcry amid the country’s invasion and bombardment of Gaza. Many have called on MSU to divest from funds that support and profit from Israel’s military campaigns.

"This is a plausible genocide targeting a captive civilian population,” Jennifer Goett, an associate professor at MSU’s James Madison College, told trustees during the meeting. “Our families' horror and trauma are only amplified knowing that MSU our employer invests in cities that support and profit from the killing of my husband's relatives.”

MSU’s review of its investment portfolio is expected to be concluded at the end of May.

Following the board meeting, a group of about 100 Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Cowles House, the on-campus home of the MSU president, to call for the university’s divestment from Israel.

MSU releases Larry Nassar documents to Attorney General

During the board meeting, MSU President Guskiewicz announced that the university is completing the transfer of documents related to its investigation of Larry Nassar to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

Despite cooperating with the long-standing request from state law enforcement, MSU officials are not planning to release the documents to the public for now.

“We have been advised until the investigation is completed, that those documents will remain with the AG and they will eventually at the appropriate time be turned over,” Guskiewicz said.

In 2018, Attorney General Dana Nessel asked MSU to share documents for the state's investigation into how the university handled complaints of the disgraced doctor's sexual abuse. Nessel eventually closed the case in 2021 due to a lack of cooperation from the university. She renewed that request in April 2023 amid new membership and leadership on the Board of Trustees.

MSU agreed to transfer the Nassar documents in December and began doing so last month.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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