Developer of the Year
An $85 million law school, a $35 million first phase of a College of Engineering complex and a $27 million campus services center are just some of the big-ticket buildings springing up on Marquette University’s campus of late.
All this, in the midst of a recession.
The school was able to confidently move forward on those projects and more because it’s “very conservative” with its finances, said James Janz, a member of the school’s Building Committee and managing director of the Joseph and Vera Zilber Family Foundation Inc., Milwaukee.
“We don’t start construction on a major project like the law school until we have pledges or cash in hand,” he said.
With a total enrollment less than a third the size of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette isn’t trying to be the largest school in the state, Janz said, just “the best.”
That means investing in new buildings and improving existing buildings at the school’s more than century-old campus, he said. Though Marquette is limited by space at its downtown Milwaukee location, school officials have no intention of relocating and instead, “build up,” Janz said.
“Marquette is an urban university and school officials made the decision long ago to remain urban and stay where they are, close to the people that need us,” he said.
The resulting campus improvements have had a positive effect on the school as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, said June Moberly, executive director of Avenues West Association Inc., Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization focused on development and revitalization of areas near Marquette.
“It’s always encouraging when you see the construction cranes, the activity,” she said. “They’ve been impressive buildings (the school has added), there’s just no doubt about it.”
Moberly and Janz credit Father Robert Wild, university president, for much of the transformation. Wild took over as president in 1996.
“We’ve had a good run under Father Wild, who’s very progressive,” Janz said.
The most recent jewel in Marquette’s crown, the 200,000-square-foot Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall, gleams next to the interstate, calling attention to the campus as traffic streams by on a daily basis.
On the horizon is the scheduled August 2011 completion of phase one of the Discovery Learning Complex, a five-story, 115,000-square-foot facility for the engineering school.
And Marquette doesn’t plan to stop there, Janz said.
“There’ll always be room to grow,” he said.