Originally published Jan. 11, 2012

Grand Valley State University officials are seeking to accommodate the growing student population by expanding its educational facilities.

A plan to add a new science building on the Allendale Campus has been in the works for about six years, said Jim Bachmeier, vice president for finance and administration at GV. Bachmeier said the proposed project is a reaction to the enrollment growth in the science programs.

GVSU has had consistent increases in enrollment in the undergraduate sciences, which is projected to continue, and we need more classroom and lab spaces to accommodate these increases,” said Shaily Menon, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “A new lab building on the Allendale Campus will provide additional labs and classrooms to accommodate the growing number of students while at the same time making sure that students can graduate and complete their degrees in a timely manner.”

James Moyer, assistant vice president for Facilities Planning, said the building has not yet been funded, and that the university is waiting for the project’s state funding to be approved by the Michigan legislature before it begins construction.

“This proposed building has been a recurring request to the State of Michigan for capital project funding,” Moyer said.

Bachmeier confirmed that the science building is mainly a state-funded project, but added that the university is expected to match 25 percent of the state funds.

However, GVSU officials have been setting funds away for a while, Bachmeier said.

“If we got the go-ahead from the state, we could probably have this building up in 30 months,” he said. “At this point, it’s up to the legislature and when they will take it up.”

Bachmeier said GVSU officials first submitted the building proposal to the state when former Gov. Jennifer Granholm was in office, and has been waiting ever since.

Despite its already long life in the state proposal queue, the program may not be approved for a few more years, Bachmeier said. However, he added that it is highly probable that the project will be authorized within the next five years.

The finance administrator confirmed that the new building, planned to be located south of the Fieldhouse and across the road from Padnos, would mainly house biology laboratories, classrooms and offices.

“A couple of academic programs will be relocated to the new building giving those programs the additional teaching spaces, and the relocation will allow us to expand classroom and lab spaces for the other science departments remaining in the existing building,” Menon said.

Moyer added that the university is primarily in need of additional lab space.

“The proposed building is intended to address a long standing bottleneck in the scheduling of required labs for several of the science programs,” he said. “The university has maximized its use of available lab resources. The affected labs in biology are scheduled to the point that we are giving lab support staff very little time to prepare a lab for the incoming class. And students have a slight aversion to lab sessions that are scheduled very late at night.”

University officials intend to give the new building a similar structure to that of Padnos Hall of Science, where labs and classrooms are in close proximity to faculty offices, Moyer said.

“If approved and constructed, the proposed project would help substantially in the university’s efforts to afford all students an opportunity to complete their basic requirements on a schedule that allows them to graduate in four years,” Moyer said.

Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2012/01/gv_awaits_approval_funding_to_extend_science_facilities

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