Dec. 8, 2011 | WMU News
The 330,000-square-foot building located just off the northwest corner of Lovell and Portage streets is widely known as Building 267. It was once part of the Upjohn, Pharmacia and Pfizer downtown campuses and is now owned by MPI Research, headquartered in Mattawan, Mich.
MPI Research has made a commitment to donate the building to WMU, and the University will extensively renovate and slightly expand the facility to become the WMU medical school campus. Renovation will begin in early 2012 with a completion date of mid-2014, in time for the first entering class in August 2014.
"Locating the School of Medicine within Building 267 presents a unique opportunity for our region," says MPI Research Chairman and CEO William U. Parfet. "The School of Medicine will not only advance the University's academic programming and curriculum, but also increase the vibrancy of our downtown community, and add critical mass to our long-standing and leading-edge life science corridor in Southwest Michigan."
In 2008, MPI Research accepted ownership from Pfizer of Building 267 and the adjacent research facility, Building 126, with an eye toward expansion as its business grew.
"When Pfizer gave the buildings to us, we anticipated that it might take some time before our business would need to expand into that space," says Parfet. "The medical school presents an exciting new development for our downtown. We are just happy to be in a position to donate this property so the community can begin to reap the immediate benefit, and MPI Research will look for other space to grow in Kalamazoo or Mattawan as the future dictates."
MPI, Parfet says, intends to begin actively using Building 126 in 2012. The University, meanwhile, plans a slight expansion and significant renovation of the space in Building 267 in a way that will accommodate both the startup and long-term space needs of an academic facility.
"This is an extraordinary gift that will not only benefit our new medical school, but will also have a dramatic impact on our broader community and the two great hospitals--Borgess and Bronson--our partners in developing the School of Medicine," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "The importance of this gift to the development of our school is immeasurable."
Dunn says the school's facilities committee and the S/L/A/M Collaborative, an architectural engineering firm hired to build the medical school, carefully analyzed the building along with other proposed sites in the community. While the cost of renovation and the cost of new construction are roughly comparable, he says, the seven-story Building 267 affords all the space needed immediately and ensures ample room for future growth.
"In the final analysis," Dunn says, "the opportunity to develop Building 267 for our use gives us a long-term financial advantage. This remarkable gift will start us at a level significantly above what we could afford with new construction, and five years from now, as the medical school grows, we won't be strained by the need to acquire or build additional space."
MPI Research is a global preclinical research organization that provides comprehensive discovery, safety evaluation, bioanalytical, and analytical services to pharmaceutical firms, biotech companies, medical device manufacturers, animal health companies, chemical companies, and government organizations to bring safer and more effective products to the world. Scientific knowledge and experience, integrity, trust, teamwork, and dedication to strong and enduring sponsor relationships are the defining attributes that characterize MPI Research as a high-performance, high-quality organization. The company was founded in 1995 by William U. Parfet, who previously served as vice chairman of the board, president and executive vice president of the Upjohn Co., as well as president and CEO of Richard-Allan Medical.
WMU's new School of Medicine is a partnership involving the University and Kalamazoo's two teaching hospitals, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare. It has been in planning for three years, and fundraising, accreditation work and curriculum development for the school are well under way. Expected to welcome its first class in fall 2014, the school is a privately funded initiative housed at WMU, which is one of the nation's 139 Carnegie-designated public research universities--one of only five such universities in Michigan. In March, WMU announced a foundational gift of $100 million for the medical school from anonymous donors.
Visit wmich.edu/medicine for more information about the school.