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Updated 11:45 PM January 7, 2005




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Regents approve Thayer Building; new home for language
and literature programs

The University of Michigan Board of Regents today (Dec. 16) approved construction of an academic building at the corner of South Thayer and Washington streets that will serve as the permanent home for three College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) programs. Regents also approved the appointment of Diamond + Schmitt Architects, Inc. of Toronto as the design firm.

The 60,000-square-foot building, which is estimated to cost $18 million, will be located on the vacant lot adjacent to the Thayer Street parking structure. It will house Asian Languages and Cultures, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, and Near-Eastern Studies. The three programs are among six from LSA currently located in the Frieze Building. Funding for the project will come from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, LSA and investment proceeds.

In October, President Mary Sue Coleman identified the Frieze site as the location of a new residence hall and academic space. The Thayer academic building not only will help with the relocation of the three academic programs, but more importantly, said LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald, it will provide a hub for the study of languages and literature in combination with the Modern Languages Building across the street.

“These three programs are among the best of their kind in the nation,” McDonald said. “We are delighted in LSA about the prospect of Asian Languages and Cultures, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, and Near-Eastern Studies receiving new academic homes in the Thayer Street building.”

The plan approved by the board calls for a phased construction schedule to begin in March 2005 with completion in Spring 2006. The goal is to have occupants move into the new building before the Frieze project gets underway in summer 2006.

“The ambitious timetable is in effort to keep us from having to lease space for these programs during construction, and to avoid having these departments be disrupted by moving more than once,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow.

Planning is underway for relocation of the other academic departments currently housed in the Frieze Building.

Descriptions of LSA programs to move:

Asian Languages and Cultures offers courses on East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The department also houses the Institute for the Study of Buddhist Traditions. Disciplines represented include literature, linguistics, philosophy, religious studies, film, music and history. The department offers instructions in classical and modern Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, classical and modern Japanese, Korean, Pali, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tagalog (Filipino), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, classical and modern Tibetan, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The Frankel Center for Judaic Studies offers students an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Jewish civilizations and thought. Its programs and classes explore the rich culture and historical experience of the Jewish people, and their unique traditions, interactions with other cultures, and impact on world civilizations. The program was established in 1976. It was renamed in 1988 to honor Jean and Samuel Frankel in recognition of their generous support.

Near Eastern Studies began in the early 1890s with courses on Hebrew, Akkadian and Arabic. Today it offers several programs of study at the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. levels covering Near Eastern languages, literatures, civilizations, linguistics, history, Ancient studies, Biblical studies, Egyptology, Medieval Islamic history and Islamic studies.

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