College launches STEM expansion
A local Catholic liberal arts college has announced more upgrades to its campus as it enters the public phase of an ongoing $58-million capital campaign.
Aquinas College said today that it will build new science facilities, upgrade its technology features, add student scholarship and research opportunities, fund faculty development and continue to beautify its campus at 1700 E. Fulton St.
The upgrades are part of a $58-million capital campaign, which launched in 2014 and has included construction of a $4-million Our Lady Seat of Wisdom chapel scheduled to open this fall. The campaign is already 60 percent funded through private donations and is now entering the public phase.
Kevin Quinn, president of Aquinas College since July 1, said the capital campaign and upgrades are meant to strengthen the college’s “core mission of developing students who make a difference at home, in their careers, their communities and throughout the world.”
“As we’ve outlined our plan for growth and transformation, it’s been clear that our supporters share our vision and commitment to create a vibrant, ethical workforce,” he said.
Science building expansion
The centerpiece of the campaign is a $32-million expansion and renovation of the Albertus Magnus Hall of Science. Plans call for a new LEED Silver-certified wing adjacent to the current facility, with renovation of the existing building to follow. When complete, the combined space will include modern, flexible laboratories, faculty and student research labs, collaborative student spaces and a three-story glass atrium.
Groundbreaking of the new facility is planned for this fall. Once construction is finished, operations will move into the new wing temporarily while the existing facility closes for renovations.
The science facility will house programs such as health science and geospatial techniques, as well as engineering in partnership with Western Michigan University, which the Business Journal reported on in May.
The campaign also will include funding for the Wege Institute for Sustainability and Economicology.
“This investment in science demonstrates Aquinas’ commitment to providing education rooted in values and ethics while providing the latest in science and technology,” said Fred Keller, chairman of Talent 2025 and founder of Cascade Engineering.
The new science building will be named in honor of Sister Aquinas Weber, chancellor emeriti and a fundraiser for the college for many decades. Weber was influential in forming what would later be named the Eastown Neighborhood Association and Eastown Business Association and was the first woman to serve on the board of trustees of Old Kent Bank (now Fifth Third Bank).
In recent years, in addition to building the chapel, Aquinas has improved its athletic and recreational facilities, updated residence halls, made the college more environmentally sustainable, moved the college entrance from Robinson Road to Fulton Street and unveiled the St. Thomas Aquinas entry court, complete with a commissioned sculpture of the college’s namesake.
Founded in 1886, Aquinas College is a Catholic liberal arts school established by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids.
The wooded 117-acre campus is located in southeast Grand Rapids.
With nearly 2,000 students and 63 academic programs, Aquinas said it “emphasizes career preparation, leadership, service to others and lifelong learning.”