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Udac to move into former DBU building

Udac plans to open in the former Duluth Business University building later this year, renaming it The Bullyan Center for Udac after Joe and Nancy Bullyan's donation allowed it purchase the building. Courtesy of Udac

Udac will have a new home in the former Duluth Business University building later this year.

Karen Herman, executive director of Udac, was overcome with emotion Tuesday while announcing that Udac had received a $3 million gift from Joe and Nancy Bullyan to purchase the building.

"There simply are not enough words to say how grateful we are to you, what this will mean to the lives of many, many, many people," Herman said to the Bullyan family during a press conference.

The building on Mike Colalillo Drive in West Duluth still looked like a school campus on Tuesday, with desks lined up in classrooms and microscopes sitting on laboratory counters. Udac, which provides life skills, job training and supported employment for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities, is still in the process of renovating the building to meet its needs.

DBU announced it would close this month after 126 years of operation due to a sharp drop in enrollment amid uncertainty about its future accreditation. The items left behind by DBU when it closed will find new life when Udac moves into the building from its current location in the Central Hillside neighborhood.

Udac closed on the purchase Thursday. Once the nonprofit moves into the building, likely this fall, it'll be renamed the Joseph and Nancy Bullyan Center for Udac. Herman said they'll be proud to have the Bullyans' name on Udac's building.

"You inspire everyone. You inspire me to be a better person. You inspire our community to be a better place and we are incredibly grateful to you. Thank you. That's all I can say: thank you," Herman said.

The Bullyans' gift is "transformational and will be for generations to come," said Mike Dosan, chairman of Udac's board of directors. "The building, the gift will make a difference for countless people that we serve. That is very, very transformational for our organization. I told people earlier today that I have goosebumps just standing here."

Dosan said he hopes his daughter, who has Down syndrome, will be able to use Udac's services in its new building to "transform her life to be a very productive community member and for that, I thank you Nancy and Joe and family. It's very inspirational." His daughter wakes up excited to get the day going every day and makes their family better, which is what Tuesday's celebration of the building purchase was about, he said.

Nancy Bullyan pointed out that Tuesday was an auspicious day for them as her husband's hard work fulfilled Udac's needs with the building.

"You're going to feel his energy here. He has a ninth grade education. He worked hard his whole life. He started as a car jockey and look what it's grown to," she said, referring to the family's RV dealership in Duluth.

Joe Bullyan explained they saw the "for sale" sign on the former DBU building after meeting with Herman and he knew it would be "ideal" for Udac.

"We had Karen (Herman) look at the building and this is where we're at today. We're pleased this gift to Udac," he said.