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Hawkeye Community College’s adult learning center to be named after VGM founder

Hawkeye Community College’s adult learning center to be named after VGM founder


WATERLOO — Hawkeye Community College’s new downtown campus will be named for a prominent Cedar Valley philanthropist whose foundation donated $2 million to the fundraising effort.

The Board of Trustees Tuesday unanimously approved naming the building the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center after meeting in a brief closed session. The Van G. Miller Charitable Foundation’s pledge is the single largest donation in the college’s history.

“We’ve been working on this for a couple of years with the foundation,” Hawkeye President Linda Allen told trustees after the vote. “We are extremely grateful for everybody that’s donated. The naming of the building is the top funding opportunity.”

“On behalf of the Hawkeye Community College Board of Trustees, I cannot tell you how pleased I am to have that named in honor of Van G. Miller,” said board chairman Jay Nardini after the vote.

Miller, who died in 2015, launched VGM and Associates in 1986. Today, the Waterloo-based company employs approximately 930 workers in a variety of businesses primarily connected to the home medical equipment industry, club and golf services, and food supply chain. It was recognized as the best large employer in Iowa last year by the Des Moines Register.

“Van appreciated the value of an education … he himself attended a community college,” Jim Walsh, board chair and general counsel for VGM Group, said in a news release. “He had a deep respect and love for his community. He was committed to efforts to revitalize and grow Waterloo, especially in the city’s historic business district where he spent considerable time in his youth. I know Van would be proud of this investment in Hawkeye Community College — as well as the community he credited his success with.”

The gift guarantees the building’s name for decades. “We’ll name that facility for a term of no less than 30 years,” said Nardini. The money, to be paid out in increments of $200,000 annually for 10 years, is part of approximately $4.5 million in donations to the project already announced by the college.

Other large gifts include $1 million from the Black Hawk Gaming Association, $500,000 from the R.J. McElroy Trust and $200,000 from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. About $500,000 still needs to be raised to fully fund the $12.96 million project. The remaining $8 million of the project is being covered through part of a voter-approved bond issue.

Construction is currently underway on the building at the intersection of Jefferson Street and West Mullan Avenue. The center will combine the programs and services offered at the college’s Metro Center and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. The facility will allow for an expansion of Hawkeye’s current programs in the three-story, 45,000 square foot building.

In addition, the center will feature more than a dozen services and double the capacity of students that can be served. Hawkeye’s new center will provide access to education and workforce training along with community partnerships and services that enhance student support, persistence, and success. Wrap-around support services will be provided through partnerships with local non-profit agencies, healthcare providers, and public service agencies.

The adult learning center is the first major building project primarily funded from the Feb. 3, 2015, bond referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in Hawkeye’s 10-county service region. The center is expected to open in January 2019.


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Staff Writer

After 18-plus years reporting on local education, I’ve graduated to covering the city of Cedar Falls. Family and church commitments keep me busy outside of work along with lots of biking, rowing and skiing – pretty good for a guy with fake hips.

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