Baker buys old Phi Mu building


Justin Toumberlin

Baker will be able to use the old Phi Mu building to create new memories for current and future staff, students and alumnae.

Story by Megan Stover, Staff Writer

For nearly 10 years, The Alumni Center has been a feature of Baker University. Now, it will become a permanent feature as Baker University enters a two-year lease-to-own agreement.

Danielle Jones Rease, vice president of advancement for Baker University, said the university has been finalizing its’ master plan for expansion over the past several years.

“Baker initiated conversations with Phi Mu headquarters because the building has been used for the past 10 years and the need for the building remains,” she said.

The Alumni Center currently houses staff members that are a part of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and the Office of Marketing and Communications.

“There are also classes that are held in the Alumni Center,” she said, “and the building is used by various departments and committees for meeting and gathering spaces.”

Rease said the University plans to continue to use the building as they have in the past, and renovations and updates will be undertaken as funding allows.

“[This will] allow current students and alumni, and future generations of Baker students and graduates to further benefit from the space,” Rease said.

Rease said the Zeta Alpha chapter of Phi Mu has a long history at Baker.

“Its alumnae are dedicated to both the Phi Mu Fraternity and Baker University through volunteerism, fundraising, and support of BU Alumni activities,” she said.

Baker University plans to honor the Zeta Alpha chapter Phi Mu by placing Phi Mu memorabilia in a prominent location in the building, as well as relocating the concrete benches closer to the sidewalk. Landscaping will also be added to highlight the benches.

“We will display a plaque in the entryway of the building that recognizes the Zeta Alpha chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity, its founding in 1916, and that the building was Phi Mu’s home until 2011,” she said.

Rachel Shuck, assistant director of development, said she has worked in the Alumni Center building for about two and a half years. In that time, Baker has done some updating of the offices.

“The maintenance staff at Baker does a tremendous job of keeping both the inside and outside of the building safe and clean,” she said.

Shuck said it is important to honor the history of Phi Mu, since they are such a prominent part of Baker’s history.

“The Zeta Alpha Chapter of Phi Mu was part of Baker’s history as an active chapter for 95 years, and their alumnae are still very active and engaged in the community,” Shuck said.

Shuck said Baker purchasing the Alumni Center is an important step for the university.

“It can continue to house offices and serve as a meeting and event venue to welcome students, alumnae, and friends to the university,” Shuck said.

Martha Harris, phi Mu alumnae and assistant dean of college of arts and sciences , was initiated into the Zeta Alpha chapter of Phi Mu on November 14, 1975.

“I was assistant treasurer, treasurer, then president, and now it is just nostalgic to go back and enjoy it,” she said.

Harris said she has lots of memories from the chapter house, and she thinks Baker University will be able to use the building to create new memories for current and future staff, students and alumnae.

“It has lots of possibilities and I think they will find continued good use for it,” Harris said.