Aquinas receives largest individual gift to date

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The expansion of Albertus Magnus Hall provides new spaces for new programs including biochemistry and molecular biology, data analytics, environmental studies, health science and geospatial technologies. Courtesy Aquinas College

Aquinas College received a $3 million gift, the largest single donation from an individual living donor in the school’s history.

The gift is from Peter and Carolyn Sturrus and was given to support the renovation and expansion of the college’s LEED Gold-certified Albertus Magnus Hall of Science.

“Albertus Magnus taught that religion and science are not mutually exclusive,” said Peter Sturrus, who was a student at Aquinas. “That idea drew us to want to support this space for students in a significant way. Carolyn and I want to see more students have access to a solid, faith-based education. We also believe that our world will continue to be better as we make advances in science and technology. This project brought it together for us.”

The gift went to support the $58 million Contributing to More Comprehensive Campaign, or CTM. It allowed the school to more than double the square footage of Albertus Hall for a total of 89,195 square feet. It also allowed Aquinas to surpass its CTM campaign goal with more than $59.3 million raised so far.

“We are deeply honored and humbled by Peter and Carolyn’s extreme generosity,” said Aquinas President Kevin G. Quinn. “At Aquinas, we believe in the development of the whole person, which resonates with Peter and Carolyn. “The new science facility is transforming the way we serve our students. It is a point of pride for all Saints and a symbol of the future of Aquinas College.”

The expansion of Albertus Magnus Hall includes 15 teaching laboratories, including a nursing simulation and observation area. There are six research laboratories, at least one for each science discipline, 11 classrooms, 26 offices and eight study and collaborative spaces. The Center for Sustainability also is located in the facility.

The expansion provides new spaces for new programs including biochemistry and molecular biology, data analytics, environmental studies, health science and geospatial technologies.

“This is now one of the top science facilities in our region,” said Sister Damien Marie Savino, Aquinas dean of science and sustainability. “As a private liberal arts college, we care about academics and the personal formation of our students. We want engineers, scientists, doctors and nurses who are ethical, caring and committed to doing good, and this building reflects that. We were intentional in taking a progressive approach to student spaces to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and active and experiential learning that is accessible to students from every background. Science comes to life here.”

The atrium, which bridges the renovated portion of Albertus Hall and the new addition, will be named the Peter and Carolyn Sturrus Atrium. It will connect the Peter M. Wege Wing, which recognizes a donation from the Wege Foundation, with the Sister Mary Aquinas Weber, O.P. Wing, named by an anonymous gift to honor the college’s chancellor emerita.

The facility gained LEED Gold certification for many of its green features, which include:

  • A green roof on campus, which can be used as an outdoor classroom or gathering space, energy-reducing features
  • Using local materials from within a 500-mile radius of Grand Rapids, which reduced the project’s carbon footprint.
  • Repurposing and reusing more than 75% of the existing building’s structure while reinvigorating dated learning spaces with new environmentally friendly finishes and technology.
  • Relying on advanced ventilation systems that increase air exchanges and greatly improve ventilation and indoor air quality, while saving more than $38,000 annually in energy costs.
  • Providing access to natural light by placing offices, classrooms and labs on the perimeter of the building, which improves work and study conditions, while resulting in 20% cost savings from reduced usage of artificial light.
  • Installing low-flush toilets and automatic faucets, which are projected to reduce water usage by 40%.
  • Diverting more than 90% of demolition waste from the landfill.

“We feel joy and satisfaction in extending the arm of God’s love to students from all walks of life,” Carolyn Sturrus added. “We believe if anyone has any inclination to give, there is no better cause than education.”

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