Construction and Higher Education

College campus set to reopen

August 13, 2015
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WMU Renovation rendering
Western Michigan University completed a $5.5 million renovation of its Grand Rapids Beltline facility in summer 2015. Courtesy WMU

After undergoing extensive renovations for more than seven months, a West Michigan-based university is welcoming students back to its Beltline Avenue location.

Western Michigan University announced today it will officially reopen its recently renovated location at 2333 East Beltline Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, after completing the approximately $5.5 million renovation project at the campus.

The reopening

University and community officials who will be present during the reopening of the WMU-Grand Rapids Beltline facility include Timothy Greene, provost and vice president for academic affairs at WMU; Senita Lenear, Third Ward Grand Rapids city commissioner; Dawn Gaymer, associate provost for extended university programs at WMU; and Roxanne Buhl, regional director for WMU-Grand Rapids.

The reopening event will also feature ROTC cadets performing a flag demonstration on site at the Beltline location.

The renovations

WMU’s regional Grand Rapids campus closed on Dec. 13, 2014, upon the completion of the 2014 fall semester to undergo extensive renovations totaling up to $5.5 million. The project was the first comprehensive renovations since the university purchased the 40,000-square-foot facility in 1990, according to a press release.

“We did renovations at that time and 25 years later it was time to create a space that is more about transformational learning. We are really excited about it,” said Gaymer. “This is about transformational learning and we think that is about technology and collaboration.”

The renovation project included updating the heating and cooling system, wider hallways, active learning classrooms, a computer lounge and new lighting. Two of the new spaces within the Beltline facility include the collaboration zone and innovation lounge, both of which have state-of-the-art technology and are centrally located within the facility.

“A couple of different things that we have done is the entire building is a bring-your-own-device location, so that means we have ample power sources and high speed wireless connectivity, which is a bit of a shift for an educational facility,” said Gaymer. “The building was renovated with current and future devices in mind.”

Two of the new spaces within the Beltline facility include the collaboration zone and innovation lounge, which have state-of-the-art technology and are centrally located within the facility.

“We took out the computer lounge of the past that was created as a more isolated space and now individuals can use that collaboration zone to share documents and work on projects together on one screen,” said Gaymer. “Another feature is we have an active learning classroom and the primary function of that is to take the instructor out of the front of the classroom and create a more dynamic space.”

Since the Beltline location was closed during renovations, students who normally took classes at the campus attended WMU’s second location in area at 200 Ionia Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids for the 2015 spring and summer semesters.

The programs

The Beltline facility provides a number of programs, such as educational leadership, family studies, social work, engineering and psychology. The location also is home to the Army ROTC Bronco Battalion, according to a press release.

As part of WMU’s Extended University Program, the two Grand Rapids locations provide working adults the opportunity to continue their education and professional development on a part-time basis.

“We did renovations at that time and 25 years later it was time to create a space that is more about transformational learning. We are really excited about it,” said Gaymer. “This is about transformational learning and we think that is about technology and collaboration.”

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