Aquinas College receives largest individual donation in school’s 135-year history

Aquinas College

Aquinas College’s Albertus Hall of Science

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In 1977, Peter Sturrus received his diploma from Aquinas College. It was a degree in business for a man who had gone back to school as an adult learner after already working as a tool and die, engineer and supervisor. Now, 44 years later, that degree has led to the largest individual donation in Aquinas College’s 135-year history — $3-million from longtime supporters Peter and Carolyn Sturrus.

The money will help continue the renovation and expansion of the college’s new Gold LEED-certified Albertus Magnus Hall of Science. The atrium, which bridges the renovated portion of Albertus Hall and the new addition, will be named the Peter and Carolyn Sturrus Atrium. The reason the Sturruses were drawn to again give to Aquinas was because of the fundamental pillars the school was built on, education through religion and science.

Inside atrium of Albertus Hall at Aquinas College (2021)

“Albertus Magnus taught that religion and science are not mutually exclusive,” Peter Sturrus said. “Carolyn and I want to see more students have access to a solid, faith-based education. We also believe that our world will continue to be better as we make advances in science and technology. This project brought it together for us.”  

Albertus Hall was built back in 1959 but over the last 15 years, the school has made extensive efforts to create new space for higher learning. The Sturrus gift is now part of the historic $59.3 million raised in the Contributing to More Comprehensive Campaign, or CTM. That campaign has allowed the college to more than double in square footage and created new space for programs like biochemistry and molecular biology, data analytics, environmental studies, health science and geospatial technologies.

“We are deeply honored and humbled by Peter and Carolyn’s extreme generosity,” said Aquinas President Kevin G. Quinn. “At Aquinas, we believe in the development of the whole person, which resonates with Peter and Carolyn. The new science facility is transforming the way we serve our students. It is a point of pride for all Saints and a symbol of the future of Aquinas College.” 

The hall now has 15 teaching laboratories complete with a nursing simulation and observation area; six dedicated research labs, at least one for each science discipline; 11 classrooms, 26 officers and eight study/collaborative spaces. It’s also home to a new home for the Center for Sustainability. It also features the only green roof on campus, used as an outdoor classroom or gathering space.

In addition to the green roof, the science hall incorporates a white reflective roof, vegetated planters, shaded parking lot and forested surroundings to help reduce the heat island effect prevalent in cities. Other unique green features for Albertus Hall include:

  • Using local materials from within a 500-mile radius of Grand Rapids, which reduced the project’s carbon footprint.
  • Repurposing and reusing more than 75% of the existing building’s structure while reinvigorating dated learning spaces with new environmentally friendly finishes and technology.
  • Relying on advanced ventilation systems that increase air exchanges and greatly improve ventilation and indoor air quality while saving more than $38,000 annually in energy costs.
  • Providing access to natural light by placing offices, classrooms and labs on the perimeter of the building, which improves work and study conditions while resulting in 20% cost savings from reduced usage of artificial light.
  • Installing low-flush toilets and automatic faucets, which are projected to reduce water usage by 40%.
  • Diverting more than 90% of demolition waste from the landfill.

The community is invited for a dedication and open house of the Albertus Hall at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 16th.

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