Earlier this year, an anonymous donor gave $100 million to Western Michigan University for a medical school. Thursday morning, officials announced the science and research facility will be located in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo.
MPI Research plans to donate a 330,000 square-foot, seven-story building at the northwest corner of Lovell and Portage Streets for the school to use. The building was once part of the Upjohn, Pharmacia and Pfizer downtown campuses. MPI Research is based in Mattawan.
"This is an extraordinary gift that will not only benefit our new medical school, but will also have a dramatic impact on our broader community and the two great hospitals--Borgess and Bronson--our partners in developing the School of Medicine," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "The importance of this gift to the development of our school is immeasurable."
Dunn also says that the building gift will allow WMU to start at a level above what they could have afforded with new construction, and in five years, as the medical school grows, they won't have to buy or build additional space.
Renovation to the building will begin early in 2012, with projected completion in mid-2014, in time for the first entering class - roughly 40 to 50 students - in August of that same year.
Although this new facility may not have the long history of other prestigious medical schools, university officials plan on writing their own history.
“We are not stuck with 100 years worth of tradition that people can’t change,” says Hal B. Jenson, Dean of the medical school. “We are actually creating a different model of medical education in Kalamazoo, we’re integrating things that some other school have developed as part of their curriculum, we’re putting those together in a pretty unique way to be able to make this a really cutting edge medical school.”
MPI Research says the announcement is not just good news for Broncos, but for the entire community. “This is the right place, at the right time, and it’s … just a great contribution to medicine, and for economic development, and for the health and welfare of all the citizens of this great area.”
Commercial Real Estate Developer, Joshua Weiner says the neighborhood was upgraded over the last few years to include a new parking structure, new apartments, and new retail space.
“It’s very difficult to see what the impact of it is going to be, but certainly the positive impact won’t be realized immediately,” explains the CEO of Meyer C Weiner Company, which owns property right across the street from the new medical school.
“I think they’ll be greater demand for the housing and the entertainment sector of our central city.”