Ball State broke ground Saturday morning on a new Multicultural Center to the east of Bracken Library.

The ceremony featured speeches from Ball State President Geoffery Mearns, Board of Trustees Chair Rick Hall and Vice President for Student Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle, who opened the ceremony.

“The new center will provide our university with the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the contribution and historical relevance of the current center’s beginnings while launching us into a future program of new possibilities that reflect the needs of current and future students,” Royer Engle said.

Royer Engle also provided a brief overview of the Multicultural Center’s history, which opened in the 1970s as the student body became more diverse.

“When African Americans looked to our university’s leaders for space and people to provide a sense of belonging on campus, the house became what many students affectionately called ‘The Multi,’” Royer Engle said.

The new Multicultural Center will be far larger than the current 3,000-square-foot building at 325 N. McKinley Ave. Mearns said the new facility will be around 10,000 square feet when it is completed in “about a year to 18 months.”

Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, said the facility’s size and proximity to the center of campus will reinforce the university’s commitment to diversity inclusion.

“I think it's just beautiful, and making sure that our efforts in our strategies, and our goals and our commitment to diversity inclusion is at the forefront — not a little house on the corner, it's a big multi-million dollar facility in the heart of our campus,” McGriff said before the ceremony.

Mearns said the facility cost around $4 million and will primarily serve Ball State students, though he added there would likely also be events for the community at large.

Mearns and the Board of Trustees broke ground following the speeches.

Contact John Lynch with comments at jplynch@bsu.edu or on Twitter @WritesLynch. Contact Grace McCormick with comments at grmccormick@bsu.edu or on Twitter @graceMc564.