by Nardy Baeza Bickel | The Grand Rapids Press
Thursday May 07, 2009, 6:42 AM
Rendering Courtesy Neumann/Smith ArchitectureAn expanded program: Once completed, Ferris State University's $26.9 million building will permit an enrollment increase.
BIG RAPIDS -- Ferris State University's Michigan College of Optometry has been housed in Pennock Hall, a converted residence hall, for more than three decades.
On Friday, the university breaks ground on a $26.9 million, 87,097-square-foot facility for the Michigan College of Optometry/Center for Collaborative Health Education.
When it opens, the building will enable the college to increase enrollment by a third and patients by at least 10,000 annually. It currently serves about 19,450.
The ground-breaking ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of State Street and Ferris Drive, next to the College of Allied Health Services. The facility will feature a first-floor eye- and vision-care clinic, a laser surgery room, classrooms, laboratories, distance-learning facilities, a teaching auditorium and research laboratories.
Acting Dean Nancy Peterson-Klein was a young faculty member when the college was relocated to Pennock Hall in 1977.
"We've had this dream 15 years ago," Peterson-Klein said.
"We've been working really hard, and I really believe this is an outstanding building for the community and the students.
"We're just smiling every day. It's really exiting."
The new building will allow administrators to increase enrollment from 36 to 50 students per class.
The building was approved by the state last year. The state is covering $20.2 million of the cost, with the university covering the remaining $6.7 million.
To date, Ferris State has raised $1.4 million for the project, including $1 million from the Dow Foundation.
Neumann/Smith Architecture, of Southfield, has designed and is overseeing construction of the facility, with Clark Construction Co., of Lansing and Petoskey, managing construction.
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