$55M science building approved

Courtesy / gvsu.edu
Matt McLogan

Courtesy photo

Courtesy / gvsu.edu Matt McLogan

Austin Metz

Coming in fall 2015, Grand Valley State University will be completing construction on a new science building located on the
Allendale Campus equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, and faculty offices.

“Think of this as an addition to Padnos Hall but it’s across the street,” said Matt McLogan, vice president of university relations. “There is considerable demand right now for science, engineering, math, technical programs, and the health professions and we are limited in our capacity to meet the demand with our current buildings.”

The new building, which McLogan said would be close to 155,000 square feet, would be located across from Padnos Hall on North Campus Dr. and would cost about $55 million. $30 million of the $55 million would come from the state following Governor Rick Snyder’s signing of the capital outlay bill on June 25.

The bill was worth over $300 million with money being divided between 18 different projects for colleges around the state. Colleges such as the University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, Wayne State University, Delta College, and Grand Rapids Community College will join GVSU.

“These investments allow higher education in Michigan to stay on the cutting-edge,” Snyder said in a press release. “Our colleges and universities play a critical role in MIchigan’s future. I am pleased that we are able to support these worthwhile projects.”

Although GVSU has not decided how it will pay the remaining $25 million, McLogan said the college has options.

“It’s likely that bonds will be part of the mix to get the $25 million along with some philanthropy,” McLogan said. “We have a very good track record in attracting folks who are a generous part of our local community to help us construct facilities here. One thing we are certain of is that we will not need to raise tuition in order to come up with the $25 million.”

The reason for not raising tuition has to do with the college’s overall rating with rating agency Standard and Poor’s.

“When a public agency like a university, city, township, or government choses to issue bonds for debt, the rating agency, Standard and Poor’s in our case, assigns them a grade,” McLogan said. “Our grade is A which is very high. That means when we go to market we should be able to take advantage of interest rates that are somewhat lower than institutions that aren’t A .”

McLogan also explained that because of how fast the school has paid off bonds in the past, the repayment cost of the bonds would be lower.

Neil MacDonald is a biology professor and department head at GVSU who said the expansion was needed to open up class times.

“For biology and the other science departments, we are limited with what we can offer in terms of new sections,” MacDonald said. “We are now having to offer classes late at night and we sometimes have to open sections at odd times.”

With the completion of the new building, MacDonald said it would free up space in the Padnos Hall and will also help update the technology the school has within the science program.

“With the new building, we would have a lot more flexibility with when we can teach,” MacDonald said. “We will have a lot more rooms available and the new building will have more state-of-the-art technology that we can incorporate into our teaching.”

McLogan said with the construction beginning in the spring or summer of 2013, there will be about 1,000 temporary construction jobs and then more faculty and staff jobs within the university following its completion in the Fall of 2015.

“The last 10 years have been a lost decade,” McLogan said. “We have not been able to get additional physical space from the state and our appropriation from the state has been cut every year over the last decade. This building now symbolizes that decade is over.”