Davenport Moves To New Home
CALEDONIA — This week, Davenport University faculty and staff will leave their historic home for the $22 million W.A. Lettinga Campus in Caledonia Township.
Davenport has been a Fulton Street fixture since 1949 — when it built what is today the vacant Junior Achievement building at Division Avenue — and at its present home at 415 E. Fulton since 1968.
While Davenport has through development or acquisition expanded into 27 sites across Michigan and Indiana serving 14,000 students, the landlocked downtown campus and corporate headquarters had no room to grow.
The area’s pioneer in adult education was being crunched by growing demand and competition in its core market, with much of its competition in brand new facilities within walking distance. In addition, the Kentwood campus on Eastern Avenue also was nearing capactiy.
On 43 acres at 6191 Kraft Ave. SE, the new Lettinga campus is the university’s largest expansion project in its 149-year history. It includes the 127,000-square-foot, three-story Richard M. DeVos and Jay Van Andel Academic Building, the Margaret Sneden Library and Technology Center, a fitness center, food service, and the Peter and Pat Cook Residence Hall. A second phase of construction will include additional classrooms and laboratories, two more residence halls and a gymnasium.
“There’s always a role for any university in a traditional market,” Davenport President Randolph Flechsig said. “Our core market is preparing people with a practical education to be immediately effective in the workplace, and our mission continues to be in preparing students of whatever age at whatever point in their career to either advance, be promoted, or to enter a new job field.”
Flechsig said the new campus is better suited to that goal because it better resembles the workplace.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re walking into a classroom setting. It’s a corporate feeling.”
The campus was designed to integrate activities of faculty and students. Faculty offices are interspersed with classrooms, and there is an abundance of common areas and breakout rooms for group work.
“Students need to understand how the real world works,” Flechsig said. “It’s an integrated process, teams working together.”
Flechsig believes the new campus is ideal for the development of the school’s new technology and marketing programs: network and computer security and service management marketing. The new programs are the first of their kind in the state, and the school’s fastest growing offerings.
The new campus will also serve as a milestone for the surrounding area adjacent to the M-6/M-37 interchange, Flechsig said.
“This building sets the tone for any new development. We worked hard to build something the community here would be proud of.”
The campus has applied for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification.