GVSU breaks ground on health campus expansion

Groundbreaking for health campus expansion
Groundbreaking for health campus expansion
Raleigh J. Finkelstein, lead donor
Raleigh J. Finkelstein, lead donor
President Thomas J. Haas
President Thomas J. Haas
Provost Gayle R. Davis
Provost Gayle R. Davis
Joseph Jones, second ward commissioner in Grand Rapids
Joseph Jones, second ward commissioner in Grand Rapids
Nicole Schafer, physician assistant studies major
Nicole Schafer, physician assistant studies major
Groundbreaking for health campus expansion
Groundbreaking for health campus expansion
Raleigh J. Finkelstein, lead donor for Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, addresses the crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony to expand Grand Valley's health campus in Grand Rapids.
Raleigh J. Finkelstein, lead donor for Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, addresses the crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony to expand Grand Valley's health campus in Grand Rapids.

The new building to expand Grand Valley State University's health campus in Grand Rapids has been named for area business leader Raleigh J. Finkelstein during a groundbreaking ceremony November 22.

With more than 300 people in attendance, officials from Grand Valley, City of Grand Rapids, and Neighbors of Belknap Lookout broke ground for Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, located at 500 Lafayette. The five-story, 84,000-square-foot building will include classroom, laboratory and office space to support the College of Health Professions and Kirkhof College of Nursing. It will include four classrooms, 15 teaching laboratories, a computer lab and 90 faculty and staff offices and parking spaces. The project also includes student study spaces, student organization space and work/break rooms.

Finkelstein, the first and lead donor for the building, said he is excited about what this means for the future of Grand Rapids and the region where he grew up. 

“We have the finest health care here, not necessarily the biggest, but definitely the finest," Finkelstein said. "Grand Valley plays an important part in that quality, and we need more talented Grand Valley graduates caring for our families.”

Born and raised on Grand Rapids’ east side, Finkelstein's financial and business acumen helped him grow MC Sporting Goods into the largest retail operation of its kind in the Midwest before selling the retail chain.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas gave welcoming remarks and spoke of the imperative for Grand Valley to expand its health campus. "As the leading provider of health care professionals in West Michigan, we need additional and enhanced laboratory, classroom and collaborative workspaces so that we can continue to attract highly talented students, faculty and caregivers to our region," Haas said.

Joseph D. Jones, Second Ward city commissioner in Grand Rapids, said officials from the city, university and Belknap neighborhood came together to do something that has never been done before.

"We came together to dialogue, negotiate and come to a mutual understanding that is beneficial to everyone involved, including local residents," said Jones. "The agreement will mean a new building for Grand Valley, but also new, affordable, quality housing as part of the development. This agreement is a model for collaboration."

With more than 5,000 students enrolled in Grand Valley's highly competitive health-related courses, the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, which opened in 2003 on Grand Rapids' Medical Mile, has been over-capacity for the last four years. 

Provost Gayle R. Davis said the expansion will allow for additional programming and accommodate more students to meet the increasing demand for Grand Valley graduates in the university's 19 health professions and nursing programs.

"We will be able to add new health sciences programs as they become needed by our regional and statewide health care providers," said Davis. "Expanding our classroom and laboratory facilities will create more opportunities for students to attain the foundation they need prior to their clinical experiences."

Nicole Schafer represented nursing and health professions students at the groundbreaking. As a physician assistant studies major, Schafer said she is excited about what the expansion means for students.

"This building will provide more lab space and resources to continue the rich learning environment that Grand Valley provides," Schafer said. "I chose Grand Valley because of its reputation for having quality and rigorous programs. It has been challenging, but I have received incredible support from the faculty. They helped me find my purpose in life."

The budget, $37.5 million for the building project and $9 million for the parking project, is being funded by donor support, university-issued bonds and campus development funds. 

Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber is the project architect and Rockford Construction Company is the construction manager. 

Construction is expected to be completed in May 2018.