#LifeOnTheAvenue: Partnerships along University Avenue create feeling of connectedness

Like Kettering University, Hurley Medical Center is a major anchor institution within the University Avenue Corridor. And Hurley President and CEO Melany Gavulic '91 is a Kettering University graduate.

#LifeOnTheAvenue is a series that will profile the people, organizations and places in the University Avenue Corridor that make the region unique, compelling and – most importantly – vital to Flint’s bright future. Follow along on social media using the #LifeOnTheAvenue hashtag.#LifeOnTheAvenue

Like Kettering University, Hurley Medical Center is a major anchor institution within the University Avenue Corridor. However, Kettering and Hurley share more in common than that -- Hurley President and CEO Melany Gavulic '91 is a Kettering University graduate.

Gavulic grew up in Davison and went to Powers Catholic High School. She attended Kettering to study Management Systems. Her longtime presence in Genesee County has allowed her to watch the ongoing transformation of the community. She has stayed in Flint and Genesee County because she felt privileged to be a part of the community and the growth.

"I just knew what Hurley stood for in the community. The fact that I was able to secure a position here was amazing,” Gavulic said. “I never thought about going outside of the community. It’s where I was born and raised.”

She knew she wanted to get into health administration and so she began volunteering at Hurley, then she went to nursing school after Kettering. She started as a liaison between the nursing department and the finance department, then moved to a leadership role and was eventually named President and CEO in 2012.

Melany Gavulic '91
Melany Gavulic '91

Throughout that time, Gavulic and Hurley have recognized the potential of the University Avenue Corridor, downtown Flint and the community as a whole. They realized that it starts with the community coming together with one common goal and vision.

Hurley is a 443-bed public hospital accredited as a Level I Trauma Center and houses a children’s hospital. They employ 2,800 individuals and care for 100,000 Emergency visits and greater than 20,000 inpatient admissions annually.

Just a few blocks away from Kettering University's historic Atwood Stadium, Hurley and Gavulic have supported Kettering and other organizations and community members along the University Avenue corridor to make the community safer, walkable and more visually appealing.

The roughly 2-mile strip of University Avenue stretches past Kettering University, through Flint neighborhoods and alongside small businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations and anchor institutions.

“We are all about making this neighborhood more appealing. Nobody can do it alone. Being able to work with Kettering and all the other partnerships along the University Avenue Corridor has been important,” Gavulic said.

Among Kettering's many initiatives in the University Avenue Corridor region has been the razing dozens of blighted properties and structures to create well-maintained green spaces. The University has also installed lighting along trails, successfully completed a historic renovation of Atwood Stadium and reopened it as a state-of-the-art venue capable of hosting major events and created new economic development opportunities, including the opening of an Einsten Bros. Bagels in 2013 and, this summer, the opening of a Jimmy John's eatery at the corner of University and Grand Traverse.

Hurley - which has more than a 100-year history in the city - has also followed suit and led blight removal efforts near its campus as well.

“It is about having a welcoming appearance. When you do have an active workforce walking around the campus and engaging in those activities and aesthetically you have that green environment around it gives it that warm and welcoming feel,” Gavulic said. “It starts with your campus. What I like about what they are doing on the University Avenue Corridor is that connectivity. We all have the same goal. We are all helping to promote each other in that way.”

Groups, institutions and organizations have adopted medians, cleaned up areas and gotten their employees involved in the transformation. The investment in the neighborhoods makes a difference.

Hurley recently changed their main entrance to face downtown Flint as a symbol that everyone is connected.

“That connectivity between everyone along the corridor is unique. People have a feeling of connectedness from to McLaren to Kettering to Hurley and all the way to University of Michigan-Flint and downtown Flint,” Gavulic said. “It’s a priority for Hurley to be a good community partner.”

In 2008 Third Avenue was changed to University Avenue, a change that was very significant, Gavulic said.

In 2012 the University Avenue Corridor Coalition was created by Kettering University to foster collaboration and partnerships to help improve the University Avenue Corridor. From there, community clean-up initiatives, new businesses going in and blighted buildings being taken down has created positive energy along the corridor, Gavulic said.

If the collaborative mindset continues, good things should continue to happen.

“Nothing could have been done without everyone along University Avenue collaborating,” Gavulic said. “My hope is that we would continue to have that spirit of collaboration. I think we all rise together. I think University Avenue partnerships have really been a good example of everybody setting their sights on a common goal and all of us contributing to that."