Sept. 27-Oct. 10, 2002
Back Issues
$6 million fund to bridge gaps
U.Va. attacking water crisis
Board approves preliminary plans for arena
Med Center board gets construction report

Bonds will help build on aspirations

Presidential Accolades
Africa Consortium to broaden health, humanities projects
Time form, earnings statement show off new look
To the point with Ann Hamrick
Off the Shelf -- recently published books by U.Va. faculty and staff
Blackford planning graceful exit as Quarterly editor
U.S. News ranks U.Va. No. 1 in “Best Values”
Women’s Center is recipient of the PIE award
Academic integrity topic of conference
Indigenous in black-and-white
Library offers rare glimpse into American history

Question & Answer Bonds will help build on aspirations

By Jane Ford

Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences recently talked about the impact that the bond referendum will have on the University.

Q: The average age of the College of Arts and Sciences’ buildings is 62 years. Only a few are rated in good condition, and there is a 30 percent space deficit. How do these conditions impact the quality of a U.Va. education?

The state of these classrooms prevents us from teaching the way we would like and need. Our classrooms, especially in New Cabell, do not permit anything other than sitting in rows, listening to a lecture. We wrap our work around this building from 1950, where 6,000 students a day are educated, rather than have the building serve our educational needs.

Q: In what other ways does the condition of the buildings impact the College?

When we talk about the buildings, it’s not just the classrooms. We’re also competing for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. When they come here and compare the state of the main buildings in which most of the educating is done at the University with what you have even at high schools the reaction is, ‘You must not value the liberal arts very much at the University of Virginia.’ But the fact is the liberal arts are one of the things we are most famous for. We have departments ranked in the top 10 nationally that are in buildings that have mold in them, and are dark and cramped.

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.

Q: What effect does the interior layout in these old buildings have on the academic experience for both faculty and students?

The spatial layout of our buildings contradicts the very notion of education, which is conversation and gathering. Over and over again our students tell us what they want, more than anything, is contact with faculty outside of the classroom.

Q: In an age of education supported by state-of-the-art technology, how do these buildings fare today and what role will the newly renovated spaces play on education and research?

The irony is that the University is famous as one of the very best places in the world to create digital content, but the fact is that the classrooms are well behind most of our competitors in technology capabilities. That’s a direct function of the age of our buildings. ITC has made a really valiant effort to equip these rooms, but the rooms were not made for this kind of technology.

Q: What will the South Lawn project mean for the University in terms of new educational initiatives and new centers?

To me, the South Lawn Project and the Arts Grounds Project embody our aspirations for the future. The South Lawn project will be built around two commons. One, where the B1 parking lot currently is, will be the International Commons. The idea is that you will be able to explore any part of the world at any time in the past and present in that one complex of buildings. The buildings where New Cabell Hall currently sits will house what we call the Human Sciences. That’s where psychology, sociology and other social sciences will come together to share common interests. In the Arts Grounds, those who study the performing arts will rub shoulders with one another and with those who study the arts historically or analytically. We know from the Envision sessions that interdisciplinary work is what students and faculty want.

Q: What impact will these projects have on the ability to attract research dollars?

Right now, one of the things the College of Arts and Sciences is focusing on is increasing the number and amount of research dollars. But the fact is, if there’s nowhere to stage the research, then we don’t have a chance of getting the money. The investment in the South Lawn Project and Arts Grounds is an investment that will permit the University to attract additional money.

Q: The bond dollars provide only seed money, a part of the total needed for new and renovated projects. Can you explain how this works with the projects under consideration?

Even with the bond act, the great majority of the funds necessary to build these buildings will come from private sources. The University has proven very active in the pursuit and the acquisition of private philanthropy. The bond act signals the importance of these buildings to the Commonwealth. It signals to people who might give some private money that the voters of the state recognize how important this is and it’s worth putting their private money into.


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