GRCC, Ferris celebrate 25th anniversary of ATC building



Leah Nixon

GRCC Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213


Sandy Gholston

FSU News Services and Social Media Manager

(231) 591-2021

Sept. 26, 2016 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University are celebrating a successful partnership as they mark the 25th anniversary of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center.

GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender and FSU President Dr. David L. Eisler will speak at the celebration, which runs 4:30-7 p.m. Sept. 29 in the ATC, 151 Fountain St. NE. Additionally, FSU alumnus Paul Flynn, Gentex Corp. vice president for operations, will share his story and the benefits of the partnership between these institutions. Representatives of GRCC and FSU will also re-sign an agreement committing to continued learning opportunities for West Michigan students.

While the ATC is the most visible result of the partnership between the schools, the success of the relationship also is reflected in student achievement, Ender said.

“Whether they start at GRCC and transfer to Ferris, or earn their FSU degree here on our campus, students have an easier path to their goals because of the partnership we have fostered throughout the years,” he said.

“Creating transformative educational opportunities is at the heart of what we do, and is most successful through collaboration. We must thank not only the visionaries of 1986 who saw the possibilities an applied technology center would bring to Grand Rapids and our college, but the GRCC and Ferris leadership who saw how a partnership would expand learning options for students.”

Working together has led to growth, Eisler added, saying: “The development of the Applied Technology Center 25 years ago was an inspired, innovative collaboration between education, business and industry.

“This partnership between GRCC and Ferris State University to offer students a variety of in-demand programs in downtown Grand Rapids has provided thousands of students with access to quality career-based education, been instrumental in supporting the economic vitality of the West Michigan region, and continues to provide employers with a highly skilled and highly educated workforce.”

Gov. James Blanchard announced joint funding for the $27 million project in 1986. In addition to $13 million provided by the state, a capital campaign chaired by Fred Keller raised almost $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions of equipment and furnishings from 173 individuals and companies. Area business and industry leaders and college faculty participated in the building’s planning process, with the ATC dedicated on June 17, 1991.

The GRCC and FSU partnership was conceived by Grand Rapids Junior College President Richard Calkins and Ferris President J. William Wenrich. It was the first two-year, four-year partnership of its kind. In 2001, the institutions signed a concurrent enrollment agreement. Continued collaboration between them includes a reverse transfer agreement signed in 2011, in which coursework completed at a four-year university is transferred back to a community college to satisfy associate degree requirements. Additionally, the schools have partnered to offer 2+2 and 3+1 programs that allow students to move more efficiently toward degree completion.

In 2008, the ATC was renamed to honor the financial support of Tom and Joyce Wisner and David and Michelle Bottrall. It houses labs for CAD; plastics technology; computer applications; electronics; robotics; energy management; machine tooling; air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration; materials testing; hydraulics and pneumatics; the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education; nuclear medicine; molecular diagnostics; respiratory care; digital animation and game design; and digital media software engineering. In 2007, a “green” roof was installed on the building as part of GRCC’s sustainability efforts.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

Ferris State University is a four-year public university with campuses in Big Rapids, Grand Rapids and satellite campuses across the state of Michigan. Ferris offers more than 180 educational programs, including doctorates, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, through eight academic colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan College of Optometry and Pharmacy.