Big Steelcase Gift To Calvin

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Steelcase Foundation reports that this summer it gave Calvin College a gift of $500,000 for new technology in the school’s new DeVos Communication Center.

    “This is certainly an important project for Calvin College,” said Susan Broman, executive director of the Steelcase Foundation, “but it’s also an important project for West Michigan.

    “Calvin communication graduates are already making a significant impact in our community,” she added. “Calvin’s new effort will expand that impact.  And so we’re pleased to be able to support the continued development of the communication arts and sciences department at the new DeVos Center.”

    The college indicates it plans to use the gift from the Steelcase Foundation to defray part of the $3 million in technology costs to equip the 55,000-square-foot DeVos Communication Center.

    Among new technology items at the center will be:

    • Four plasma screens near the center’s main entrance
    • A new audiology booth for conducting hearing tests
    • A video and film theater with seating for 150 people
    • A distance learning classroom
    • An audio studio with an instructional control room
    • A video studio with an instructional control room
    • Numerous audio and video editing suites for personal and group production projects
    • Computer servers and networking capabilities among all the classrooms, offices and public spaces.

    Quentin Schultze — author of the recently released “Habits of the High-Tech Heart,” who also is a Calvin communication arts and sciences professor — says students need to learn technology as undergrads in order to prepare for either a profession or for success in graduate school. 

    But, he adds, students need to be both technologically savvy and thoughtfully reflective.

    “At Calvin, with this new building,” he said, “they will gain both virtue and technological ability.  And they will be able to answer the crucial questions about how we can use the technology to serve real human needs in West Michigan and beyond.”

    Steelcase Foundation reported that Calvin students and graduates are already serving needs in West Michigan, something that foundation directors found compelling in making their decision to give the school half a million dollars. 

    According to Broman, the foundation looked at such things as Calvin’s low-cost stroke rehabilitation clinic, which serves patients who otherwise would go without needed care. Too, the foundation reported being impressed by the many projects Calvin students undertake for local nonprofits at no cost.

    Among such projects are undertaking Web site development and producing training videos. 

    The foundation believes the new building will allow for even more community-connected projects and for an expansion of the stroke clinic and other areas of Calvin’s communications disorders program.

    In fact, communication arts and sciences is one of the school’s fastest-growing programs.  This year the department will serve some 900 students, including about 350 CAS majors, in addition to students majoring in business, education and political science.

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