GRAND RAPIDS — With the announcement of an agreement with the Wyoming Public School district to purchase the facility and property at 2550 Rogers Lane, Grace Bible College has begun developing an expansion plan that will double the amount of its class space.
“We are excited about the vision of the future for the college and see this step as very important to accommodate our current and future space needs,” said the college’s president, Ken Kemper, in a statement after the purchase was announced.
“We are very grateful to the board of Wyoming Public Schools and the superintendent for affording us this great opportunity. We see this expansion as being good for the GBC students, the programs of the college and for the community of Wyoming.”
The property is currently the home of Horizons Community High School and was previously home to Pinery Park Elementary School.
The existing campus is one block north of the Horizons’ site at 1011 Aldon St. SW, tucked in the neighborhood behind Rogers Department Store.
The college had begun to demonstrate a deficit of usable space. Its current enrollment is 160 students and is likely to see a jump of nearly a third this year.
Besides new classrooms, the additional building will allow for the creation of music labs, digital audio and video studios, and office space, with the five-acre property allowing ample room for additional expansion.
Likely to benefit most from the expansion is GBC’s digital media programs, which encompass 20 percent of the study body.
Construction is expected to begin in June 2005.
The president of the college’s board of directors, Rick Velting, released his own statement:
“After enlarging and remodeling our library last year, this addition will address several other pressing needs that we have for our growing programs and student body.
“It also shows Grace Bible College’s commitment to Wyoming as its only local college or university, and more specifically, to this neighborhood.”
Although one of the region’s smallest colleges, Grace is fully accredited and has the distinction of being the only institution of higher education in the city of Wyoming.
Cory Hodgson, advancement and development assistant, explained that the college hopes to become a more visible part of the Wyoming community after the expansion.
Hodgson said the college already is involved in the community through its recreational sports programs, annual golf outing and educational programs in collaboration with Cornerstone University.
“As a small school we don’t have a lot of resources, but we try to get students out there and involved in the community,” he added.