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School News Network Feature: Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall changes create 'one-stop shop' for students seeking services

Aug. 30, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- While standing inside the newly renovated Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, Grand Rapids Community College student Angelique Nyarwaka said it’s nice to have a new one-stop enrollment experience on campus.

“I think it’s very helpful for new students,” the second-year student said about several student services now being housed under one roof. “I have a sister coming from New York and she is going to be coming here. It will be very nice for her to have all of the services in one space.”

Financial aid, enrollment, admissions and student records have new offices on the first floor of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, 143 Bostwick Ave. NE.GRCC recently completed extensive renovations to the 210,000 square-foot building, formerly called the Main Building.

Rather than heading to a variety of offices to seek services, students now are greeted at one reception desk, and specialists from the various offices are brought to them – a student-centered, one-door approach.

As well as serving as a hub for student services, the space now features modernized and reconfigured lab space, gathering areas, dining spots and welcoming entrances.

The iconic, nearly 100-year-old building was renamed in 2019 in honor of businessman Raleigh J. Finkelstein, a lead donor for the project. Finkelstein and his brothers operated MC Sports, which developed from their parents’ company, Michigan Clothiers.

Improved access to student services

Kristi Welling, associate director of Enrollment Center services, said the project has been years in the making.

“We have developed a one-stop shop,” she said. “It used to be that students would go to different places on campus to get these services. Now it’s all in one place. We’ve really invested in students.”

It’s a way of removing barriers along with meeting students’ needs, she said.

“When I was younger I was the first in my family to get a degree, and I didn’t know where to go on campus and what to do. We find a lot of the students much like myself who are first in their family to go to college and aren’t really sure of the services available – what they need to do, how they need to do it to get to the part where they are actually getting their degree.”

GRCC and community leaders, including Finkelstein, gathered at Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall last week for one of four ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the same day. Other completed projects include

  • A two-story, 18,416 square-foot expansion with a machine tool lab and data center, renovated computer lab and student gathering and study spaces at Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE
  • A historic renovation, preserving wood interior features while creating modern spaces for students, staff and faculty at Steven C. Ender Hall, 455 E. Fulton St.
  • Historic renovations including a kitchen, meeting space and areas for receptions and other gatherings at Custer Alumni House, 473 E. Fulton St.

“We are preserving what made these buildings special, but making sure they are able to meet the needs of the students of today and tomorrow,” GRCC President Bill Pink said.

This story was reported by Erin Albanese of the School News Network.