Fundraising has begun for expansion of Hillsdale’s Washington, D.C., campus, with the purchase of two additional buildings that will house the Van Andel Graduate School of Government and other offices, as well as a plan to build a courtyard that will connect the buildings along Massachusetts Avenue.
The Allan P. Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, located on Capitol Hill, has housed Hillsdale’s D.C. operations since 2008. The growing graduate school, which began classes in D.C. in the fall of 2019, and the increased number of staff prompted the idea for expansion.
The plans also include adding a penthouse on top of the new Van Andel building, and a rooftop veranda on the Kirby Center. The Van Andel building will provide an additional 7,000 square feet to Kirby’s 12,000 square feet.
“The existing programs have been growing and expanding, and now with the grad school coming into being and now growing all necessitate having more space,” said Matthew Spalding, vice president of Washington operations and dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government. “But in true Hillsdale fashion, that space will be beautiful, well thought-out, and done wonderfully, and I’m looking forward to all that.”
The project will cost an estimated $14 million, with most of the funding coming from the ongoing Four Pillars Campaign, the capital campaign launched in 2019, according to Rich Péwé, Hillsdale’s chief administrative officer. The college will also need to raise several million beyond what was set aside for the expansion in the Four Pillars Campaign.
The project’s timeline depends on D.C. bureaucracy, Péwé said. Since the Kirby Center is a historic building built around the turn of the 20th century, all changes need approval from the Historical Preservation Office.
The plans also must be approved by the Public Space Committee and regular building safety codes. Hillsdale has already been in communication with the Historical Preservation Office for several months, but due to the COVID-19-induced backlog, there is no estimation of when it might get approval on the building plans. Until this happens, all plans are tentative.
“In the Washington, D.C., environment there are a lot of regulatory things we have to get through,” Péwé said.
One of the main issues the college is dealing with regarding the regulatory agencies is whether or not the buildings can be internally combined. The answer will affect the fundraising strategy.
“There’s been some good fundraising already, but once we establish if there will be two separate buildings or one building, we’ll be able to move forward and try to do some really aggressive fundraising,” Péwé said.
According to the President’s Club News, a publication for college donors, there are “35 naming opportunities, ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million, including for student study rooms, classrooms, faculty and staff offices, and a library seminar room” in the expansion plans.
The entire renovation will likely be broken into five different campaigns, but Péwé said the best case scenario would be to receive a gift to cover the whole project.
“If we had a gift for the whole thing, we could do it all together all at once,” he said. “This would be the most economical and least disruptive way to do it, but we may not have that ability, depending on how the fundraising goes.”
Spalding said the renovations will further Hillsdale’s mission in Washington, D.C.
“I think it really shows that Hillsdale is developing a larger campus footprint in the nation’s capital,” he said. “And I think that’s important to solidify who we are and what we do. This is part of a long-term fulfillment and expansion of that mission.”