Northwestern College is always changing and improving. Just last year the new state-of-the-art DeWitt Family Science Center opened, but the science center is not the only thing to change on NW’s campus.
In case you haven’t noticed, extensive renovations have and are being made to Van Peursem Hall. The construction, which started in the summer of 2019, is expected to be accomplished before fall classes begin in 2020. These renovations are completely rehauling significant portions of the building.
In response to questions about the renovations, Doug Beukelman, retiring vice president for finance and operations, and Kent Wiersema, new vice president for finance and operations, stepped up to the plate with answers.
“The VPH renovation project currently underway, primarily consists of portions of the second and third floor being converted to house space for the emerging MSPAS and MSAT programs,” Wiersema said.
As NW prepares for their new graduate programs, they realized new areas for classrooms and extra space needed to be added in order to accompany the expected turnout this coming fall semester.
“This includes classrooms, lab spaces, office areas and various rooms for small group collaboration,” Beukelman said. “In addition, the large lecture hall on the third floor was moved to the second floor beginning this school year. The cadaver lab on the second floor is being expanded for use by the masters and undergraduate programs.”
Along with these renovations, several offices are being reconfigured to create more space, and restrooms on every level are being upgraded as well.
“The campus renovations are part of the 2019-2020 capital plan, with the remaining summer items planned for the 2020-2021 capital plan,” Beukelman said.
The building itself is not the only thing being transformed. The east entrance of VPH is also undergoing much transformation. It is being renovated to improve drainage and water penetration issues, as well as redo and beautify the landscaping. The college is redoing the east corner of campus because it is an important first impression for by-passers.
Why is NW enacting all of these changes? Recently NW has been accredited with both a Master of Science in Athletic Training and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies programs. VPH is being greatly remodeled to accommodate these new programs. Once the renovations are complete, both the south and east halls of the third floor will be completely dedicated to both new programs.
After being asked how the programs will use the new spaces in VPH, Christina Hanson, director of the Physician Assistant Program, said, “We are so excited to start teaching in the newly renovated facilities. The innovative combination of lab, clinic and classroom space will provide them with an outstanding learning opportunity, so they can be equipped to provide excellent care to their patients in the future.”
All the changes being made to VPH will greatly improve the facility for both the new programs and the student body as a whole.
These renovations to VPH have been in the works for a long time. They have been part of a bigger plan to keep NW competitive as an institution. Due to the increasing need for healthcare providers across the country, NW is adding the AT and PA programs to accommodate those needs. The renovations to VPH are just a part of the plan to make all of this happen.
“Construction change is sometimes like dominoes,” Wiersema said.
Renovating VPH is just one of the last dominos in a line of dominoes that NW has been setting up over the last several years. It will be exciting to see the finished project once students come back in the fall of 2020.