a critical issue for higher education
This is the first in a series.
Kiely, a U.Va. graduate, just returned to Charlottesville last
weekend to help her oldest son move into his first-year dorm as
he entered the School of Engineering. She would like her other
two children, who are 15 and 12, to have the same opportunity
to attend an in-state school.
by Andrew Shurtleff
windows, cramped classrooms and outdated facilities
have been targeted for repairs and renovations with funds
in the Nov. 5 bond issue.
College of Arts & Sciences in particular suffers from
aging facilities and maintenance needs. The average age
of buildings is 62, and in a recent Facilities Management
report only five of the Colleges 22 buildings were
rated in good condition, according to guidelines
from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
a separate assessment of space needs for the College, consultants
concluded, Antiquated building infrastructure, poor
ventilation, limited electrical capacity and overcrowding
interfere with instruction and create uncomfortable work
environments for faculty and staff throughout the College.
the sciences and the fine and performing arts, many facilities
are inadequate to support state-of-the-art technology and
experimentation, the assessment says.
will be among a flood of new faces. In the next decade, 32,000
more high school graduates are expected to go to colleges and
universities in Virginia on top of the 325,000 that attend
a Fairfax County resident, said state schools are the top choices
for all the parents she knows.
amazing how many people say, Why would we go out of state?
What they value, said Kiely, is the affordability, national reputation
and range of size options among the schools in Virginia.
high standards while accommodating growing enrollment will challenge
the schools facilities. Thats why many officials are
pointing to Nov. 5 as a critical point in higher education in
Virginia. On that day, citizens will vote whether $846 million
in bonds will be issued to help finance renovations and new buildings
on campuses statewide.
cannot emphasize enough how important passage of this referendum
is to Virginias future, said Gov. Mark R. Warner at
U.Va. during Finals in May, one of six graduation ceremonies where
he made the case for the higher education bond package. We
wont have the laboratories, the classrooms and the dormitories
unless we pass this referendum.
than $68 million is earmarked for capital projects at U.Va., ranging
from $24 million toward a new medical research facility to $12.5
million to upgrade storm water systems, chillers and
other basic infrastructure needs.
states financial crisis and substantial budget cutting spurred
the General Assembly and the governor to target $846 million of
the $900 million referendum to higher education, seeing this as
one way to build for the future, even in tough times.
of the states many problems is that (with the exception
of projects financed by the last GOB in 1992) it has failed to
invest in buildings and major upgrades for over 10 years,
said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. This referendum
is a chance for voters to repair some of this damage, make clear
that adequate facilities are a priority for them, and also send
the message that Virginians care about the things that belong
to all of us, and perhaps especially for the colleges that they
have supported over the years.
the past 15 years, U.Va. has received $108 million in state capital
funding. The last referendum for higher education was a decade
ago, when voters overwhelmingly approved borrowing $613 million.
Carolina, in comparison, passed a $3.1 billion bond act for higher
education in 2000, with $900 million directed to UNC-Chapel Hill
Jeanne Marie Devolites, a Northern Virginia Republican who represents
part of Fairfax County, said she and her colleagues hear concerns
from their constituents about the limited space available in Virginias
public colleges and universities.
If we dont increase the capacity in classrooms and
labs, Virginia residents may not be able to go to in-state schools
and will be forced to go to more expensive schools, said
Devolites, a U.Va. alumna. I believe every child should
have the opportunity to go to the states wonderful universities.
Virginia has the ninth largest student enrollment in the nation,
according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
SCHEV estimates that by the fall of 2010, the four-year universities
alone will need to accommodate 194,641 students, an increase of
11 percent, from the fall of 2000. Most of them will come from
the localities near the Interstate 95/I-64 corridor on the eastern
side of the state.
facilities await the Kiely children and other students? The average
age of campus buildings slated for renovation is 50 years, which
is past the average usefulness of 30 to 40 years set by industry
standards. Sixty-eight of 122 projects statewide would be renovations.
U.Va.s College of Arts & Sciences, the Universitys
largest school, that average age of buildings is even higher.
Nov. 5, citizens will vote on whether to provide $846 million
in bonds for educational facilities around the state. That
total includes $68.3 million toward the following facilities
and improvements at U.Va. (the balance will be funded by
private gifts or through other sources):
MR-6 (Medical Research Building), a new structure for advances
in immunology, infectious diseases and cancer research:
$24.2 million (total cost: $50 million)
A new Arts & Sciences building to replace deteriorating
facilities: $14.3 million (part of the $125 million South
A new nanotechnology and materials science and engineering
building to foster technological innovations: $7 million
(total cost: $34 million)
Renovation of teaching laboratories in Gilmer Hall to support
instruction in biology and psychology: $5.7 million
Renovation of Fayerweather Hall, a 19th-century gymnasium
now housing the McIntire Department of Art: $4.6 million
A new engineering/science chiller plant to provide cooling
for new construction and replace outdated CFC-based technology:
Replacing the Campbell Hall chiller to increase capacity
for new construction and replace chronically malfunctioning
equipment: $1.6 million
Constructing a regional storm-water management system for
McCormick and North Grounds, including restoring Meadow
Creek and constructing a pond near the new arena: $1.4 million.
The higher education bond referendum that will be on the
ballot Nov. 5 reads as follows:
Chapter 859, Acts of the General Assembly of 2002, authorizing
the issuance of general obligation bonds of the Commonwealth
of Virginia in the maximum amount of $900,488,645 pursuant
to Article X, Section 9(b) of the Constitution of Virginia
for capital projects for educational facilities, take effect?
we want to maintain our position in American public higher education,
we simply have no choice but to increase and improve the quality
of the space in which we do our basic work, said Edward
L. Ayers, Arts & Sciences dean.
bond issue would help renovate science labs and art studios as
well as provide $14.3 million toward the Colleges $125 million
South Lawn construction project.
know some buildings are in significantly bad shape. Its
an investment for the state to upgrade and maintain them,
said Frances C. Bradford, coordinator for communications and government
relations at SCHEV.
who has studied research and development in the state, said its
an important component for top-quality universities. About $200
million of the bond funding would go to medical, engineering and
science research buildlings.
commercialization cant happen without the R&D, she said.
Its an excellent investment for the state.
recently endorsed the $900 million bond proposal for similar reasons,
warning in a report that the Commonwealth is not keeping
pace with other states in this critical area [of support for higher
education research] that provides life-saving advances in medicine
and scientific discovery, and contributes to job creation and
Bradford, To do groundbreaking research, our schools need
up-to-date labs. That will also help attract other good faculty
and good students.
bond package could generate more than $1.5 billion in economic
activity by 2008 and create nearly 14,000 jobs, according to estimates
of how much construction work it will take to complete the projects
and how much revenue will be generated, Bradford said.
bond package would require neither a direct tax increase nor a
tuition hike to repay the loans. More than a dozen business organizations
from across the state already have endorsed it, including several
chambers of commerce groups and the Virginia Business Higher Education
states AAA bond rating means that we get the very best interest
rates available, said Colette Sheehy, U.Va.s vice
president of management and budget. The state is short of
cash but has a fairly generous amount of debt capacity to use.
its analysis of the need for a well-educated and well-trained
workforce, SCHEV found two key areas wanting: information technology
and teaching. The bond package would help provide better facilities
for students to pursue these areas. It would also provide funds
for the community college system to establish five work-force
learned in 1992 that [general obligation bonds] generate jobs
for people who need them in tight times, said Casteen. The
fact that GOBs like this one do this without raising taxes makes
them doubly attractive at this time.
has built up a lot of financial problems. This is a chance for
voters to solve one themselves.