Bonds will help build on
By Jane Ford
L. Ayers, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences recently
talked about the impact that the bond referendum will have on
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?
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.
In what other ways does the condition of the buildings impact
we talk about the buildings, its not just the classrooms.
Were 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.
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 Colleges 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:
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 Universitys
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.
What effect does the interior layout in these old buildings have
on the academic experience for both faculty and students?
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.
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?
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. Thats 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
What will the South Lawn project mean for the University in terms
of new educational initiatives and new centers?
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. Thats 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.
What impact will these projects have on the ability to attract
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 theres nowhere to stage the research, then
we dont 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.
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?
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 its worth putting their private money into.