By Mary Eilleen Lyon
Grand Valley State University is expanding its health campus in downtown Grand Rapids to accommodate the ever-increasing demand from students and health care providers.
The university’s Board of Trustees approved a building project on the Medical Mile on Michigan Street at its July 14 meeting. The new building, at 333 Michigan, will be next to Grand Valley’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and within a block of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, currently under construction on Lafayette Avenue.
The new $70 million building project will create additional spaces for the health professions and nursing programs. Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2018, with the opening set for May 2021. Finkelstein Hall is 84,000 square feet and will be completed next May.
“This approval is a major turning point for Grand Valley’s health programs,” said Provost Maria Cimitile. “Demand has exceeded our ability to accept highly qualified students, and these two new buildings, right in the middle of the city’s vibrant medical community, will provide exceptional opportunities for more students to attend Grand Valley and benefit from the unique combination of liberal education with professional training. This combination makes our graduates highly employable by area hospitals and medical facilities.”
Grand Valley is the leading provider of health care professionals in the region, and the project received authorization from the Michigan Legislature. The state approved a capital outlay request of $29 million for the five-story, 160,000-square-foot building. The rest of the funds will come from private donors and university bonds.
The trustees also adopted the university’s FY 2018 budget and set tuition rates for the academic year. Trustees approved a $237 per semester increase in tuition, bringing annual tuition to $11,994 for a full-time undergraduate Michigan resident. The budget includes $47 million in financial aid for students, which is an increase of more than $3.3 million to be awarded in the form of scholarships and grants.
The university is expected to receive $70.1 million in state funding, some of which is awarded to Grand Valley based on its superior performance in key areas such as retention and graduation rates. Grand Valley ranks fourth for retention and third in graduation rates of all public universities in Michigan. Nearly 85 percent of recent graduates stay and work in Michigan.
“It’s incredibly gratifying for the Legislature to again recognize Grand Valley as the state’s most efficiently managed university and our investment in our students and their promising medical careers,” said John Kennedy, chair of the Grand Valley Board of Trustees. “And the university achieves high performance while still keeping tuition lower than the majority of other public universities in the state. Students are graduating and employers are recognizing their talent. They’re staying in Michigan and giving back to their communities.”
The performance funding from the state has allowed Grand Valley and President Thomas J. Haas to provide the Grand Finish grant to students who stay on track toward graduating in four years. The grant awards a $1,000 scholarship at the start of the fourth year to students with at least 90 credits. Since the Grand Finish program began in 2011, more than 13,500 students have received the award heading into their final year of their undergraduate degree.
“An education provides benefits to a family, a community and a state,” said Haas. “Education is a public good, and by making it affordable and accessible to more people, who in turn contribute to the health of our state, we change our collective futures. Grand Valley is absolutely committed to these principles, and we back up the commitment by increasing financial aid each year so more of our students get the financial help they need to earn their degree.”
The state’s share of Grand Valley’s entire budget is 18 percent. Trustees earmarked all of the funding from the state for student financial aid, debt service, maintenance and utilities for classroom buildings.
In other board action/discussion:
• Trustees approved a new master’s degree program in Data Science and Analytics. Housed in the School of Computing and Information Systems and Statistics Department, graduate students will learn analytics skills that are necessary to work with big and complex data sets. Paul Leidig, director of CIS, said the program will prepare students to be data scientists, a field that has grown by 57 percent since 2016.
• James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning, reported that renovations and an addition to the Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus will be finished in August. The two-story, 47,000-square-foot addition includes a black box theater, support spaces, two theater classrooms and three ensemble rooms.
Moyer also said the Mackinac Ravine Restoration Project on the Allendale Campus will be finished in October. The project will restore about 1,000 feet of the ravine located north of Zumberge Pond.
• Trustees approved the authorization of Old Mission Peninsula Community School, a charter school in Traverse City; a site change for Michigan Mathematics and Science Academy in Center Line; a grade addition for Evergreen Academy (Kalamazoo) and Oakland Academy (Portage); and the appointment or reappointment of charter school board members to GVSU authorized public school academy boards.