Cornerstone University plans $4M renovation of graduate studies building


A rendering of Cornerstone University’s renovated professional and graduate studies building. Courtesy Cornerstone University

Cornerstone University’s building for professional and graduate studies is getting a $4-million makeover.

The private Christian university’s plan to completely gut, renovate and extend the outdated building will begin this summer — with hopes of completion by February 2014, said Robert Simpson, Cornerstone associate provost.

The building currently houses 10 of the 40 PGS program staff members spread across campus.

“We have experienced healthy growth in our PGS programs, especially in Grand Rapids,” said Cornerstone Provost Rick Ostrander. “We want to create a facility here in Grand Rapids that is conducive to academic excellence and that provides our students with the convenience of having all academic and student services consolidated in one building.”

Funds for the project come from PGS revenue that's been put aside for the past couple of years, Simpson said, as well as from partnerships with companies and individuals. He hopes to have the building paid off by the time the move is made.

Simpson, who is managing the project, said the 18,000 square foot, three-story building at 300 East Beltline Ave. NE will be extended to about 22,000 square feet, making room for seven additional classrooms, work space, a reception area and a new staircase.

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Architectural design is being done by C2AE, and construction will be done by the Christman Co.

Simpson said the need for such a major renovation comes from Cornerstone’s growing student body. About 350 to 400 students graduate out of the PGS program every year, he said, and the size of the program has doubled in the past eight years.

The change will put the PGS teams in one place, he said, making a more efficient overall program that could generate even more job growth.

“We will see job growth as the program grows,” he said. “The move into this renovated building won’t create it, but will foster program growth, which will.”

The new look also will lend a more professional and corporate space to members of the business community, many of whom serve as the program’s 200 adjunct faculty, Simpson said.

“It’s important, because the university is growing and in the market I deal with . . . we’re the ones that really deal with the professionals. We’re the corporate face to the community,” he said. “Now, we give the look that the university is growing and raising its image in the community to feel more mainstream.”

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