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We seek to ensure that our programs, curriculum, and learning environment serve the needs of our students and our community because all of us have a stake in tomorrow. 

We are not finished, because the future isn’t. We have seen strong growth: in our enrollment, our footprint, and our programs. But there is more work to be done. 

Our academic programs and centers require resources to attract and retain top faculty, to expand outreach and student experiences, and to align our programs with a rapidly changing employment environment. Moreover, as the pace at which students learn and employers do business escalates, so does the need for current equipment and technology. 

There is a need to both improve and expand our facilities to meet our rising enrollment. 


Relevance Goal


These are fundamental aspects of our mission, but also areas of ongoing, increasing need where donor support can make a significant difference. 
There are five key areas that need your help.

Grand Valley has the most comprehensive array of health sciences programs in Michigan. With more than 5,000 students enrolled in our highly competitive health-related courses, our Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences has been over-capacity for the last four years.

As the leading provider of health care professionals in West Michigan, we need more laboratory, classroom, and collaborative workspaces so that we can continue to attract highly talented students, faculty, and caregivers to our region. To do so, we intend to expand our Health Campus in the heart of Grand Rapids' Medical Mile. 

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A focus on meeting the needs of both students and industry has fueled the growth of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. Here, students are provided with advanced engineering skills and hands-on, industry-based learning experiences that at other universities, are often reserved for graduate students. 

We continue to attract top students in mechanical, product design and manufacturing, and electrical and computer engineering programs. We also see growing student interest in newer fields of study, including nanotechnology, fiber optics, electromagnetics, and biomedical engineering. 

With continued donor support, the college can renovate existing spaces to meet projected annual enrollment increases of 10%, and keep pace with the expanding opportunities for private-public partnerships within our community.

Donor support can add much needed student-focused classroom space, as well as flexible, high-tech facilities for student projects and innovation activities that have become the focus of the engineering curriculum. This has a direct benefit to both the students and our community. Students, often working in teams, need a great deal of space and access to specialized equipment to work on their projects. These projects, in turn, provide real-world experience and solve problems for a corporate partner.

Expanded space will help Grand Valley to meet current and future student demand for its world-class engineering curriculum while preparing the next generation of professionals for industry in West Michigan and throughout the state.

The performing arts have long played a vital role in the West Michigan cultural experience, and from its earliest days, Grand Valley has made the performing arts an integral part of a liberal arts education. As the program has grown, so too has the demand for expanded, flexible, multi-disciplinary performance space, and the resources to prepare students for the regional and national stage. The current performing arts center, which houses the Louis Armstrong Theatre, was originally constructed in 1971 with its most recent addition in 1998. It can no longer host the university’s growing audiences, roster of productions, rehearsals, and experimental projects.

To better support our growing performing arts programs, the university plans to create a new addition that will include a “black box” style theater, additional space for individual and ensemble rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and production support space to provide student performers with new opportunities to ply their craft, rehearse, challenge their abilities, and gain the skills needed to ultimately succeed beyond Grand Valley. The performing arts at Grand Valley include students majoring in theater, choral/vocal, dance, and instrumental music programs. Additionally, many students with an interest in the performing arts who are involved in extracurricular activities such as bands and vocal groups, will also benefit from this new facility.

Donor funds are needed to support what will take place inside this new center. This will include equipment, instruments, and other materials that will elevate both students' skills and their performance levels, as well as provide professional performance opportunities on a broader scale. Gifts to this endowed fund will be recognized within the new center.

While the university is grateful to have an endowment of more than $100 million, this amount is small relative to peer institutions whose endowments average several hundred million dollars. Like any sound investment, endowed funds at Grand Valley pay annual dividends which fund general operations at the university or are donor-directed to specific areas. Very simply, the larger our endowment is, the more secure our future and programs become.

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute, the Sylvia and Richard Kaufman Interfaith Institute, and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy supported by endowed funds which are designed to ensure lasting emphasis and impact on the issues that matter most. These funds, and others like them, are supported in large part by donors like you. 

Grand Valley has endowed funds for each of our colleges and programs. 

Attending a university has always been transformational. Great institutions have always been home to great thinking, exacting scholarship, and influential instruction. We intend to advance this tradition of excellence by expanding the number of endowed chairs or professorships at the university. These faculty positions are permanently funded by the returns from endowments established for an express purpose. 

Currently, Grand Valley has five endowed faculty positions. They are exemplary teachers in a wide range of specialized courses, who provide leadership and counsel to students and faculty alike, and who continue to push the frontiers in their chosen fields of study. 

It is our goal to add five endowed positions, doubling our current number. 

By funding an endowed position, you will help to shape a Grand Valley education at its foundation: where talented men and women teach young people who seek to understand the world and to change it. Increasing the number of endowed chairs and faculty positions fosters an academic environment that is not only richer for our students but draws prospective high-achieving students and faculty to our university and our community. This approach — the ongoing and intentional enhancement of our programs to further impact our community — is the very nature of what we call “the Laker Effect.”


Jennifer Wardrop
Assistant Vice President for University Development
(616) 331-6644