Donor Pledges Additional $2.6 Million for Building Renovation

Over homecoming weekend, UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences celebrated the dedication of six newly remodeled classrooms in the Liberal Arts Building. In the past two years, Dennis and Gretchen Eck have generously contributed nearly $4 million toward the renovation.

Now, the couple has pledged an additional $2.6 million towards the project.

“I was walking across campus one day, stepped into the building and went back in time 50 years,” said Dennis Eck, who is the former interim CEO and current director at Ulta Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrance, Inc. “Nothing had been modernized. And I decided to do something about it – something that could serve as a proof of concept for upgrading the University’s facilities without changing its characteristic beauty.”

The Ecks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Thanks to the Ecks support, the renovated classrooms feature advanced audio/video resources, modular furniture and upgraded finishings.

“This classroom technology allows me to present multiple pieces of information simultaneously, meeting the expectation of the digital generation but also deepening each student’s understanding of the course content,” said Barbara Weinlich, a visiting associate professor of classics who teaches in Liberal Arts 304.

The Ecks are also supporting the next stage of the remodel, which includes enhancing technology in the building’s 120-seat auditorium, creating a new central entrance and designing much-needed student gathering spaces.

The next phase of facility renovations depends on important infrastructure updates to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as roof repairs and asbestos abatement. As a priority for the University in the next legislative session, this project promises to demonstrate the momentum of private support when coupled with state resources.

Pictured above: Governor Steve Bullock (left) stands with Gretchen and Dennis Eck (left center), Dean Chris Comer (right center) and President Royce Engstrom (right) at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony.