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April 6, 2001

Construction Begins on East Campus

Site preparation has begun for Calvin College's expansion of its East Campus (the area east of the East Beltline), a $25 million project. At the end of March the heavy equipment came in - bulldozers, earthmovers, dump trucks and more - to kick off what will be an approximately 18-month-long construction project on the campus.

When the work is complete in September 2002 the Calvin campus will look significantly different. The East Campus will contain the DeVos Communication Center and the Prince Conference Center. It also will anchor one end of an approximately 380-foot-long pedestrian overcrossing that will span the East Beltline and join the two campuses.

Right now anywhere from six to 10 workers are involved in what Calvin vice president Henry DeVries (above) calls "general grooming." Three excavating companies - Kentwood Excavating, Velting Contractors and Nagel Construction - are clearing land, moving topsoil, raising parking lots and bringing in sand, readying the site for the buildings and the overcrossing. Calvin hopes to select a general contractor for the project in May and begin the building construction at that point.

Each of the two new buildings promises to add a lot to both Calvin's campus and the Grand Rapids community. The DeVos Communication Center will house classrooms and office space for the communication arts and sciences department as well as the political science department and the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics. It also will contain a TV studio, a radio studio, a computer lab and a 150-seat theatre, complete with surround sound.

The Prince Conference Center will be two buildings connected by an atrium. One building will hold meeting space, including a room with seating for up to 400 people, several others for 80-100 people and also smaller rooms for groups from 20-50. The other building will be a lodging facility with 60 air-conditioned rooms for guests. Much of the conference center will incorporate Calvin's 100-acre ecosystem preserve with views of the woods, ponds and trails that make up the preserve.

The two buildings are being funded by the two largest gifts in the history of Calvin College. Both the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation committed $10 million to the projects for a total of $20 million.

"The DeVos and Prince families are long-time supporters of Christian education," said Calvin College president Dr. Gaylen Byker at the time of the gift (July 1998). "Their support of these two new ventures means a great deal to all of us at Calvin. We are very grateful."

Elsa Prince is a 1954 Calvin graduate. Richard DeVos is a 1947 Calvin alum and winner of the school's 1982 Distinguished Alumni Award. His wife Helen is a 1947 Calvin graduate.

NOTE: The official "groundbreaking" ceremony for the project will be at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1 at the site. There will be a brief ceremony that will include members of the Prince and DeVos families.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)