New Campus Project Background

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Des Moines University reset its vision to remain a national, premiere medicine and health sciences university serving the community and the world. When she announced the new project, Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., president and CEO, said: “During this exploration, our entire campus community will be involved in the creative and strategic planning process that will ensure we create an exciting university environment that supports advanced medicine and health sciences education and research, as well as clinical services for residents of the region.”

The DMU Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the campus relocation and master planning process. Then chair Michael C. Witte, D.O.’77, said, “We are setting the stage for strategic growth of the university and embracing the powerful, evolutionary trends in education and health care delivery. The current site on Grand Avenue simply cannot accommodate the plans we have for the expansion of our curriculum, facilities and clinical services.”

To complete the project, DMU worked with two exceptional specialists in the planning and design of higher education and health sciences facilities. RDG and GTG, both locally based, facilitated DMU’s master planning process and guided the architectural and engineering development for the university’s new location. 

History of the Land

The land that is home to DMU’s campus at 8025 Grand Ave. was shaped by what is known to geologists as the “Edge of Advancement” of what was the Wisconsin Glacier. More than 10,000 years ago it moved south across North America shaping the land as it moved. Specifically, this parcel of land is the product of the Des Moines Lobe of that glacier. It came to rest at the center of this property and created the definition of a defining hill above the flat expanse of land. And though we don’t have the facts on record, it is important to recognize that this land was home to Native American peoples and other generations long ago who lived and farmed here. We can assume that they, no doubt, respected and valued the land. As we built our new university from the ground up, our campus community was and continues to be mindful of making respectful use of this property and building with the highest standards of sustainability and ecological responsibility.

Beyond the land itself, however, this opportunity to expand our university spurs us all to think differently, to think of new ways we can enhance our curriculum, explore new teaching methods and expand our research and clinical services. This is an incredibly exciting time for DMU. We see this moment of advancement as a rare chance to be innovative, to grow and to forge new partnerships that will benefit our students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

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