Downtown Campuses Strengthening Ties with Students and Community



The completion of a paved trail connecting downtown Kalamazoo with a regional non-motorized network is scheduled to be finished yet this year. This new connection winds past the Kalamazoo Valley Museum on the college’s Arcadia Commons Campus going through Arcadia Creek Festival Place before joining the rest of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail (KVRT) on Harrison Street.

According to Kalamazoo County Parks and Recreation Director Dave Rachowicz, “The trail route is used for recreation and as a commuter route, giving cyclists and all kinds of nonmotorized traffic a safe path."

"We are finding that a number of faculty members and students are riding their bikes to our downtown campus locations,” said Executive Vice President for Enrollment Management and Campus Operations Mike Collins. “When the college was approached by the planning committee composed of bike advocacy groups, public officials and other community partners, we looked for a way be a part of the KRVT connector effort.”

This effort complements downtown KRVT expansion recently completed along the east side of Portage Creek in Upjohn Park between Walnut and Lake streets and through the college’s Bronson Healthy Living Campus. “As more and more people live, work and attend classes downtown, we want our students to understand that part of our commitment to the area is helping to expand mobility options which include walking and biking trails,” Collins said. These efforts help to fulfill the KRVT vision.

Another initiative, Gardening Kalamazoo for Clean Water, will serve to implement green infrastructure on the Arcadia Commons Campus and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

It will also establish a rainwater harvesting system for the college’s new Food Innovation Center on the Bronson Healthy Living Campus and develop a master rain garden education program for residents in the Portage Creek and Arcadia Creek watersheds. Funding for this project comes from a three-year federal Clean Water Act Grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Construction is scheduled to begin early this fall and be completed in 2018. Also on tap at the Arcadia Commons Campus, are the fall opening of the new Innovation Gallery, Innovation Lab, and Think Tank at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The new exhibit and interactive space will include team-building activities as well as one-on-one, technology-rich exploration of four major areas: Human Body, Environment, Mobility, and Music. “There are more than 26 new interactive challenges for visitors, including the use of game-show-style food systems quizzes, race car building, wind turbine construction, dancing MRI and x-ray images that follow your every move, climate simulators and the use of endoscopic manipulation,” according to Bill McElhone, director of the museum.

The new exhibit will occupy more than 4,500 sq. ft. of completely redesigned space on the third floor. “We are fully committed to the idea of developing more accessible innovative, immersive, and hands-on experiences that are engaging and fun.” McElhone said. The museum remains open during construction.

At its core, the museum is an educational institution and is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and governed by its Board of Trustees. Dean of Math, Science, and Health Careers, Dr. Paige Eagan said, “These new offerings have been designed to inspire and nurture the exploration of the related subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, commonly referred to as STEM, along with History and Art.” She went on to say, “not only will the general public enjoy exploring these new exhibits, our faculty will have even more opportunities to incorporate learning at the museum into curriculum and course work offered by the college.”

“The infusion of an innovation theme into the traditional science exhibit museum space reflects the growing importance and recognition of the creative spirit within our community,” McElhone said. These new offerings complement the other hands-on activities at the museum including the History Gallery and traveling exhibits. Opened in its current Rose Street location on the Arcadia Commons Campus in 1996, the museum attracts more than 130,000 visitors annually.