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’92 bonds transformed Grounds
This is the second in a series.

A decade ago, Virginians turned out in record numbers to endorse a higher education bond issue by a 3-to-1 margin. This support for construction and renovation reflected a keen understanding of the need for additional space to provide better resources for teaching and medical research – the kind that produces educated citizens and cures for diseases. On Nov. 5, citizens are being asked to make another investment in the future of higher education.

By Matt Kelly

Michael Levenson’s memories of Wilson Hall are not fond ones.

“It was insupportable and unpleasant. There was gloom inside,” said Levenson, chair of the English Department.

He considers the 42,289-square-foot Bryan Hall, built as a result of the 1992 bond referendum, a major boost toward a new era for the English Department.

On 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)

• $14.3 million for a new Arts & Sciences building. Part of the $125 million South Lawn Project, the building will house 13 of the College’s 26 departments and will contain digitally equipped classrooms serving the entire University.

• 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• A new engineering/science chiller plant to provide cooling for new construction and replace outdated CFC-based technology: $4.8 million

• Replacing the Campbell Hall chiller to increase capacity for new construction and replace chronically malfunctioning equipment: $1.6 million

• Upgrading the Cavalier substation to increase the University’s electrical capacity: $4.7 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.

1992 bond issue

The statewide $613 million bond issue approved by voters in 1992 included the following funds for projects at U.Va.:

• A major addition to Jordan Hall (medical research), $14.6 million from state bonds, $32.3 million total

• An addition to the Chemistry Building, $8 million bonds, $20.3 million total

• The construction of Bryan Hall (English Department), $4.5 million bonds, $8 million total

• Renovations to Old Cabell Hall, $3.6 million bonds

• Renovations to Minor Hall (offices and classrooms), $2.1 million bonds.

Its construction allowed English, the University’s largest department, to move into new facilities, attract top faculty and provide a modern learning environment for its students.

Other University projects that resulted from the ’92 bond referendum included: a major addition to Jordan Hall for medical research and education, $14.6 million from state bonds; an addition to the Chemistry Building that allowed the department to significantly expand its research, $8 million; construction of Bryan Hall, $4.5 million; renovations to Old Cabell Hall, $3.6 million; and renovations to Minor Hall, $2.1 million.

The 1992 referendum provided $613 million in general obligation bonds for construction projects at public colleges and universities around the state. U.Va. received $35.8 million, which officials supplemented with private money to fund about $67 million in new construction and renovations. In addition to its direct impact on the University and its students, the surrounding community felt the ripple effect from the five building projects. Hundreds of local construction jobs were added in the community, and it was estimated that 30 new research labs would bring an additional permanent annual payroll of $5.6 million.

“We learned in 1992 that general obligation bonds generate jobs for people who need them in tight times,” said University President John T. Casteen III. “The fact that bond referendums do this without raising taxes makes them doubly attractive today.”

Joseph E. Grasso, associate dean of planning and operations at the College of Arts & Sciences, said the facilities built with funds from the 1992 issue allowed U.Va. “to increase its sponsored research in the certain sciences and provided modern classrooms and laboratories for undergraduate students.”

“One of the state’s many problems is that — with the exception of projects financed by bonds in ’92 — it has failed to invest in buildings and major upgrades for more than 10 years. Physical plants have grown old in that time, both because of the lack of new investment and because the state failed to provide proper funds for upkeep,” Casteen said. “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.”


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