Andrews University Community Partnership, Michigan

Map of Michigan highlighting the Andrews University Community area.

Partnership: Andrews University is working to expand their Center for Excellence in Environmental Health to support community and environmental health.

Goal: To improve community health through safe land reuse and redevelopment.

Community and population:

Largely rural, with 22 townships, 8 cities, and 9 villages

Population (2010): 156,813, with wide-ranging demographics

Percentage below poverty level:

  • Berrien Country—17.2%;
  • Benton Harbor City—48%;
  • Benton Harbor Township—34%
A vacant building filled with debris and spray painted symbols.

Land reuse site in Niles, Michigan with evidence of tagging. The building is not secured from public access (Lloyd Degrane, 2019)

graphic icon of a hand holding a plant
Environmental concerns
  • Chemical contamination of both land reuse sites and waterways: metals, volatile organic compounds, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls, asbestos, and mercury
graphic icon of a stethoscope
Health concerns
  • Infant mortality (per 1000 live births): 10.4 among black infants, double the infant mortality among white infants (5.1)
  • Rate of all causes of death (per 100,000) higher in Berrien County than in the state and country
  • Leading causes of death, from highest to lowest: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, and stroke
Two people standing in front of a sun shade tent.

Andrews University Faculty during soilSHOP Event in Septmeber 2019 (ATSDR, 2019)

BROWN assistance and collaboration

  • Application for over $800,000 in brownfields assessment funding
  • Collaboration with Andrews University public health faculty on a report describing environmental and health risks in Berrien County
  • ATSDR soilSHOP and blood lead screening in Benton Harbor
  • 5 lectures to Andrews University High School and public health undergraduate and graduate students
  • Student practicum on community engagement and land reuse completed by Andrews University student.

Berrien County Health Department. (2019). Health Statistics Brief. Retrieved from:

U.S. Census. (2019). Quick Facts. Retrieved from:

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Page last reviewed: April 22, 2021