GVSU receives state funding for new health science building

GVL/Luke Holmes
Melissa Perla helps strectch out Grant Fall in the Physical Therapy room in the Center for Health Sciences Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.

GVL/Luke Holmes Melissa Perla helps strectch out Grant Fall in the Physical Therapy room in the Center for Health Sciences Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.

Shae Slaughter

As Grand Valley State University continues to grow in size, so does the need for larger facilities. Currently, GVSU is expanding to fulfill the need of students in the form of a new health sciences building.

This new academic building will be built downtown on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile. One will begin construction this winter, but the exact details of the proposed project are still under wraps as the university board has yet to give its final approval.

The initial building plan was for an 84,000 square foot building located at 500 Lafayette St. However, “during the development of the program for this building, the university realized that this new building would not meet the immediate and long term needs of the university,” said James Moyer, associate vice president of facilities planning at GVSU.

Administrators then looked to the state for financial help in adding an additional 160,000 square feet to create a third building to meet the ever growing needs of the university. This additional space will ideally include 16 new labs and preparatory spaces, 15 new classrooms and seminar spaces and 50 new faculty offices, along with a variety of other rooms.

This extra space is necessary due to the fact that GVSU’s enrollment has increased by 40 percent over the last 15 years. Many of these students wish to enter into health-related fields, pushing the current academic buildings to maximum capacity.

GVSU is the state’s largest producer of health professionals who are not doctors, as more than one third of its students are enrolled in health or gateway professions.

Professor Roy Olsson, Dean of the College of Health Professions, has noticed the need to grow and update the facility.

“In 2008, the college had about 1,000 students. Today, the college has about 2,300 students,” Olsson said.

GVSU’s current facility, the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences has only been in use since 2003, but is already inadequate in terms of size and capability.

In the College of Health Professions, the number of available majors is constantly growing, much like the number of students looking to fill those programs. Options like health information management, American Sign Language and clinical dietetics have recently been included. When the Cook-DeVos Center opened, GVSU offered eight programs in health-related fields. As of last year, 41 are now offered.

For these reasons, GVSU administrators met with state legislators to pitch their proposal. Ultimately, the state agreed to give $29 million for the development of this new building. Matt McLogan, vice president of university relations, was present at the unveiling of the plan to the legislators.

“In approving the budget, they authorized planning which will last about a year,” McLogan said.

The new building is not expected to have any effect on GVSU’s current tuition rate, as the funds not covered by the state will be taken from the school’s current budget. Ideally, the state-funded building construction is estimated to begin in April 2017, concluding in July 2019.