May 12-18, 2000
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Casteen outlines new arts precinct plan in annual speech
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U.Va. President John T. Casteen III

Casteen outlines new arts precinct plan in annual speech

By Rebecca Arrington

Old Cabell Auditorium, with its mural reproducing Raphael's "School of Athens," provided the perfect backdrop for the news President John T. Casteen III delivered in his State of the University Address May 3 -- the progress, to date, on the arts precinct.

During his well-attended, two-hour talk, Casteen also covered the budget, student life, equity issues and facilities, as well as how the University will take its Virginia 2020 future initiatives plan from the design to action phase.

"All arts programs here are operating in buildings that at best are jury-rigged," Casteen said.

U.Va. is the last school of its size without a concert hall, he said. But not for long, if the proposed diagram of the new arts precinct he displayed becomes reality. The plan includes a studio art building, which just received state funding of $9 million and is currently in the design phase; a 600-car parking garage; 40,000 square feet for a new museum (compared to the Bayly Art Museum's current 18,000 square feet); an addition to the drama building; and a new fine arts library and amphitheater.

Proposed Arts Precinct
P Parking garage
M Music
UM University Museum
L1 New fine arts library
L2 New fine arts library
D Drama
SA Studio Art
PA Performing Arts Center
Existing Buildings
NF Nameless Field
MG Memorial Gym
R Rotunda
AS Architecture School
BM Bayly Art Museum
FH Fayerweather Hall
LC Lambeth Colonnades
FK Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library

The plan also calls for a 1,500-seat concert hall to be built at Nameless Field, with a bridge spanning University Avenue to link the performing arts building to the other structures near the Architecture School that will make up the precinct.

"I think this is a good plan, and that we're well on our way to financing [it]," Casteen said, estimating the project would take at lease a decade to complete.

Work on U.Va.'s three other commissions -- International Activities, Public Service and Outreach, and Science and Technology -- is ongoing, Casteen reported. Among the initiatives are creating a science and technology venture fund to "grow" money to provide grants to faculty in these areas, and conceptualizing a plan for the much-needed research facilities critical to achieving advancements in targeted science and technology areas.

Reporting on the University's $1.1 billion operating budget, Casteen said state funding has hardly increased in the past decade. "We're still playing catch-up following the state's 10 percent cut in our budget in 1991." This matters, as it's one way the University is measured against its peer institutions. "We're not a land-grant university, such as Virginia Tech. On the other side, we're not privately funded. ... An affirmative statement of what we are becomes essential to our future."

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is the trendsetter among U.Va.'s peers, he said. UNC's efforts in regard to state funding have steadily increased over 25 years, when the legislature backed the school's efforts to become a national force, he said. Virginia has not followed a similar funding formula. For example, the state contributed $11,149 per Virginia student in 1998-99, compared to $23,089 in state support per student at UNC.

Reporting on student life, Casteen announced that Pat Lampkin would be heading an effort on long-term student-life planning (see story, Lampkin to focus on future of student life). He also praised the effectiveness of residential colleges. "We need to develop vehicles for faculty to interact with students, not just in these colleges, but in dorms as well. I'd like to see us move forward with more residential colleges." U.Va. currently has two, Hereford and Brown, with a third international college slated to open in the fall of 2001 (see U.Va.'s third residential college to feature international theme). He noted, too, the "measurable improvement in alcohol awareness" among students this past year, and that the student-run Honor System, "a crucial part of student life here, is conducting a self-study.

Looking at faculty and staff efforts, Casteen praised the work of the Task Force on the Status of Women at U.Va. The goal is "to move us to genuine equity," he said, which doesn't yet exist here, with 30 percent of the 1,838 faculty members being women (see for the group's report). One of the findings that came out of the April 24 Faculty Senate forum on women's concerns was that issues of women in the lower levels of the University's staff were not addressed in the study. That will no longer be the case, he said.

Casteen also commended the deans for their "yeoman's service" in managing their schools' budgets and for their fund-raising efforts this past year. He paid tribute, as well, to the faculty now reaching retirement, "who've built the University to its present place as a top public university."

In closing, he said the state of the University is that it's "old, but not as old as it thinks it is. And excellent, but not as good as it thinks it is." He's confident, however, that "it's going to get better," in part because of the support of U.Va. alumni and friends, many of whom are participating in the University's Virginia 2020 strategic planning for the future. Their encouraging message is "plan it, then come back to us," he said.

Q&A session


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