Board approves land purchase, psychology program, Kleiner renovation; removes retiree medical benefits

Archive / Robert Mathews
President T. Haas speaking during a previous Board of Trustees meeting.

Archive / Robert Mathews President T. Haas speaking during a previous Board of Trustees meeting.

Lizzy Balboa

Grand Valley State University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the purchase of land in Allendale and Grand Rapids, the expansion and renovation of Kleiner Commons and the establishment of a school psychology program at its Nov. 1 meeting.

It also approved revisions to administrative manual that will eliminate retiree medical benefits for new university employees.

The board purchased two separate packages of land. The first is an additional 11 acres downtown near the Cook-DeVos Health Center, which will allow for the expansion of GVSU’s health programs.

“The growth and huge expansion that we’re seeing in our health-related programs are astronomical,” University Counsel Tom Butcher said. “We have a lot of qualified students we just can’t admit because we just don’t have room.”

The $18 million purchase secures four city blocks, which will be cleared to build on within the next five years.

The second parcel is an 8-acre vacant lot on the corner of Luce Street and 42nd Avenue in Allendale. Butcher said the land is worth $136,000 and is currently owned by the Methodist Church, which has shown an interest in acquiring land in a different location.

“It will complement some other holdings that the university has and allow us to continue to plan,” Butcher said.

Both projects will be financed by the Campus Development Fund, which Butcher said would not cause an increase in student tuition.


The board also approved architect, construction manager, budget and schedule for the renovation and addition of 18,000 square feet on the Robert Kleiner Commons on the north end of the Allendale Campus.

The proposed budget of $7.5 million will be drawn from university general funds and proceeds from Aramark, GVSU’s food operator.

“This project proposes to provide additional food service space, student study space, as well as some general-purpose space on second floor of the building to support university needs,” said James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning.


GVSU continues to expand its academic offerings to accommodate the diverse needs of Michigan students. Its newest program will be in school psychology, as the Board of Trustees unanimously approved its development.

“This school psychology program that we’re presenting this morning is a new approach to a new opportunity,” said Fred Antczak, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It’s a distinctive program in that only five such programs exist in Michigan, and ours leads either to a master’s degree that pulls one into doctoral studies or to a certification Psy-P degree in school psychology. This is an area in Michigan that the Michigan Department of Education has determined is an area of critical need, and we have a powerhouse faculty rearing to go on this.”


The board unanimously approved a revision of the Administrative Manual that eliminated retiree medical insurance for future employees.

Scott Richardson, associate vice president for Human Resources at GVSU, said the old coverage opportunities have become, in a way, outdated.

“In 1990 as it was common practice, the university started a very modest plan of medical coverage for retirees,” Richardson said. “Fast forward to today, and it is quite uncommon for universities to be doing that any longer, as is true in most employers in Michigan now. So what we’re proposing today is that we close the front door on that to new hires starting Jan. 1 and continue to provide the benefit to current staff as we promised them when we hired them.”


The board passed a capital outlay budget and five-year plan to be submitted to the State Department this year.

Matt McLogan, vice president of University Relations at GVSU, said two priorities on the budget request are an enhancement of the Louis Armstrong Theatre in the Performing Arts Center, as well as physical expansion of the School of Communications. McLogan said the SOC is in need of additional space to accommodate faculty offices and new classrooms as the school grows.


Brian Copeland, associate vice president for Business and Finance, reported that GVSU received $7.2 million in gifts and additions this year, which exceeds the average amount of $2 million to $3 million. Copeland added that the university spent $3.1 million this year, which is a record for GVSU. Part of that money benefited more than 700 students through 170 privately funded endowed scholarships.

However, he confirmed that while this year had the largest dollar amount spent, GVSU had the smallest percentage for spending distribution this year, so it managed to accumulate more money while spending less. Copeland added that this year, GVSU had a 13.1 percent return on the endowment.

Also at the meeting:


President Thomas Haas released his annual Accountability Report, which revealed consistency in GVSU’s student profile. The report, which details statistics from enrollment to graduate pass rates on licensure exams, serves as a “report card” for GVSU’s strategic plan and can be viewed in its entirety at;


Haas announced that GVSU has officially signed reverse transfer agreements with all 28 Michigan community colleges as of Thursday;


the board unanimously approved the development of three new GVSU charter schools in Flint, Livonia and Troy;


and the board unanimously approved GVSU’s submission to the state for a $200,000 grant supporting the development of a storm water management master plan on the Allendale Campus. The overall cost for the plan is expected to be $230,000.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held Feb. 14 at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Campus. For a complete list of meeting dates, visit,