Many would be surprised to learn that Central Michigan University has had a Grand Rapids presence for approximately 20 years. And recently, CMU has upped its presence here with the opening of its Grand Rapids Center at 1633 East Beltline Ave. NE.
“We’ve been in Grand Rapids for quite a while and the fact that most people don’t know about it explains part of the reason we were pulling for a new center. We’re trying to increase the awareness there,” said Merodie Hancock, vice president and executive director of Central Michigan University off-campus programs. “We’re looking to ramp up our service to Grand Rapids. It’s going to offer everything from master’s to undergraduate, full student services support … it’s really a host of student programs.”
CMU currently is sharing the facility and renting from Kent Intermediate School District. The university also has a partnership with Kent ISD offering continuing education programs to its teachers and administrators.
Hancock said CMU felt it was the right time to expand in Grand Rapids.
“The Grand Rapids economy is doing relatively well. We’ve been hearing from some of our business leaders in the area that we needed to be doing more,” she said. “It’s really just another look at CMU’s dedication to the state and higher-ed achievement. It’s really designed to expand on our mission to serve the state in higher-ed attainment of quality public degrees.”
The center will have three permanent staff members with faculty coming in and out. The programs available at the center are designed for either undergrad or graduate students who can’t commit to full-time study. Classes are offered in accelerated formats, evenings and weekends.
Hancock said CMU will assess the programs at the new center to determine if and how to expand the university’s presence in Grand Rapids.
“We would like to further meet the needs of the Grand Rapids population, and this will allow us the opportunity to see what those are,” she said.
“If we start hearing that they really want a specific program, we’re pretty nimble in being able to bring that out. If there’s a population (such as) schoolteachers that say, ‘Hey, I want to go on the weekend and I want to combine it with half online and half face-to-face,’ we have the ability to work with that population.”
Currently, the most popular degree choice is the master’s in science administration.