Community leaders break ground on Kettering’s 105,000-square-foot learning commons

FLINT, Michigan—On Wednesday, Feb 5. Kettering University broke ground for its new Learning Commons. The building, which will be located in the middle of the university’s campus, will feature state-of-the-art architecture, interior design, and educational technology.


The building serves as a part of Kettering’s Boldly Move Forward strategic initiative campaign, which aims to catapult Kettering into its next 100 years. It will feature AI labs designed to allow students creative liberty, a digital library, a 300-seat auditorium, and collaborative working spaces.


Related story: Kettering’s $63 million learning facility to be the most technologically advanced in Michigan


The Learning Commons, which will add 105,000 square feet to the Kettering campus, is expected to be completed by 2022.


The groundbreaking took place during a sunny morning outside of Kettering’s Campus Center Sunset Room. Onlookers heard speeches from; Flint’s Mayor Sheldon Neeley; President, CEO and Chair of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Ridgeway White; Kettering President Robert McMahan; Vice President of University Advancement Susan Davies; Board of Trustees Member Gary Cowger; and Student Government President Joshua Calahar.
(Left to right ) Board of Trustees Member Gary Cowger, Kettering University President Robert McMahan, President of the C.S Mott Foundation Ridgway White, and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley stand together after breaking ground.

White emphasized C.S. Mott Foundation’s commitment to bettering Flint and how students at Kettering often engage with the community through volunteerism, neighborhood cleanups, and partnerships with nonprofits in the area like 100K ideas.


“Educare, which is right nearby here, many of the Kettering students went over and engineered age-specific toys for the youngest kids, birth to 5 years old … that means that Flint has students at the top of the education continuum helping the very youngest students who are just getting started on their educational journey. That story tells you a lot about the character of Kettering and Flint,” said White.


White followed this by announcing Mott Foundation’s intention of granting the university a total of $25 million, $12.5 million of which have already been granted.


McMahan echoed White’s sentiments. “This groundbreaking today speaks loudly about our commitment to the Flint community. This city has been Kettering’s home for 100 years and Flint is our partner and part of the Kettering family,” said McMahan.


“At Kettering, our students, both past and present are the heart and soul of this university and they are spectacular. And so today as we break ground on our new learning commons, we do so with this thought: Kettering students, this is your building,” said McMahan.



Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Santiago Ochoa.

Santiago Ochoa is a freelance reporter and communications student at UM-Flint. He is the project editor for On The Ground community reporting series and currently serves as The Michigan Times' Editor-in-Chief. Santiago has worked with publications and organizations like The New York Times, the Interamerican Press Association and Flint Beat. You can reach him @santi8a98 on Twitter and Instagram and email him at [email protected]