Hope College breaks ground for engineering center


School, community and business leaders dig in during a ceremony for Haworth Engineering Center on the campus of Hope College. Photo by Mike Nichols

 The shovels, gripped by the united hands of Holland education and business leaders, have been planted.

Representatives of Hope College and Haworth Inc., celebratory smiles on their faces, flung dirt into the air Friday afternoon at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Haworth Engineering Center on campus.

Under a large, white tent, surrounded by more than 100 supporters, Richard Haworth, chairman emeritus at Haworth Inc., Kurt Dykstra, Holland mayor, Richard Ray, Hope College’s provost, James Bultman, Hope College’s president, John Krupczak, chairperson of the department of engineering, and engineering major Lauren Aprill all shared their perspectives on why the new facilities mattered.

Haworth, for whom the facility is named after his lead gift made the efforts possible, said giving back to the community is in the fiber of his company. Helping the college also helps business, he said.

“We need skills and talent as an organization, and we get that by investing in the community,” he said. “I want this facility to be used and worn out, and then we’ll have a reason to build an even bigger, more exciting one.”

Dykstra thanked Haworth for his generosity, calling him a “tremendous friend” to not only the college but also the city.

He went on to say the new facility is important to the economy of Holland because the future belongs to places where the work force is educated.

“Any time the college thrives, the city of Holland thrives,” he said. “I don’t think you will find any other college in any other community that has a better relationship than we have with Hope here in Holland. … We need to be in a position where our talent creates products consumed around the world. This facility helps that happen and accelerates that.”

Krupczak and Aprill both said the new facilities will meet students’ engineering needs and provide them with the necessary skills to attract the attention of industry employers. Krupczak also noted the higher numbers for Hope’s engineering enrollment, with about 40 more students than last year.

The new center will be constructed as a 9,000-square-foot addition to the northwest corner of VanderWerf Hall. Supported by the college’s “A Greater Hope” initiative, it will cost an estimated $3.75 million, which includes an endowment for ongoing maintenance.

It is scheduled to open in time for the fall 2013 semester.

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