Davenport To Start Next Campus

July 28, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Davenport University has officially unveiled its plan for the $20 million project to build a new campus on Kraft Avenue in Caledonia.

The site is to be named the W.A. Lettinga Campus.

"We decided to place our newest and largest campus here because it will be located in West Michigan's golden triangle of economic development," said Randolph Flechsig, Davenport's president.

"We plan to educate highly trained business graduates who will work in West Michigan and contribute to its economic development."

Located in the "golden triangle" — formed by the Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon areas — the new campus will also be easily accessible via M-6, also being dubbed the South Beltline.

The 127,000-square-foot, multi-use facility will serve 2,400 students and include the Richard M. DeVos and Jay Van Andel Academic Center, the Margaret D. Sneden Library and Technology Center, and the Peter and Pat Cook Residence Hall, able to house 250 students.

Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel will serve as honorary co-chairs of the project's fund-raising campaign with Wilbur Lettinga and state Sen. Glenn D. Steil serving as campaign co-chairs.

Lettinga is a Davenport alumnus who sits on its board of trustees. He has been very involved in Davenport and is reported to be one of its generous supporters. He is also a recipient of the Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business award.

In a joint statement, DeVos and Van Andel said, "An investment in Davenport University is an investment in the strength and growth of our business community. All of us in business know this university provides a practical education that prepares students to be well equipped to enter the work force.

"We're proud to be the honorary co-chairs of this campaign and encourage our community to support the growth of Davenport University."

Construction on the project is slated to begin in the spring of 2004 and be completed by the fall of 2005, running up a bill of $20 million.

The fund-raising campaign has a goal to raise $10 million, of which $4.3 million has been raised to date with lead gifts from Alticor/Activa, W.A. Lettinga, Peter and Pat Cook and Steil.

Flechsig said the project will allow Davenport to grow, while at the same time enabling it to provide students with an academic setting that is comfortable, has state-of-the-art classrooms and technology, and is conducive to learning now and into the future.

"We are also committed to maintaining our presence at the Fulton Street campus located in downtown Grand Rapids," said Flechsig.

"This is where the university began and will continue to serve as headquarters and offer select programs to the community."

Plans for enhancements to the downtown campus — to be named the Glenn D. Steil Campus — were part of the announcement about the Caledonia development.

Many improvements to the downtown campus reportedly are already underway.

"I firmly believe in the direction of the university and I am pleased to support their efforts with a major gift to renovate the Fulton Street Campus," said Steil, who also is the owner of Compatico, an office furniture systems company.

"To have the downtown campus named after me is a lifetime thrill," he added.

"I am an advocate of improving these resources to better the experiences of Davenport students as they prepare to meet the needs of the community and workplace. I have hired many alums in my companies and I can say they are worth the investment. I have found these graduates to be the best resources a company can have."

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