Board approves first phase of dormitory replacements
|At The Board Meeting
||John Casteen III
||A. MacDonald “Mac” Caputo
By Dan Heuchert
For the next 12 to 15 years, first-year students living along Alderman Road will have to get used to coexisting with a construction zone.
The Board of Visitors, meeting June 9-11, approved concept, design and site guidelines for the first phase of a long-term project to replace the Alderman Road dorms, hurriedly constructed in U.Va.’s booming growth era of the 1960s and now reported to be deteriorating.
The initial phase calls for the construction of two new dorms as “swing space,” plus the conversion of two houses at Hereford College — Malone and Weedon — into first-year housing. Once that phase is completed, in summer 2008, students can be moved into the new buildings while existing houses are taken down and replaced in clusters, said university architect David Neuman.
The first two new dorms will be modeled after the most recently built dorms in the area, Cauthen and Woody, both of which opened within the past decade to favorable reviews from students, who appreciated their amenities, including air conditioning.
One of the new first-year dorms will be built behind Balz House. The other will be built on a site in the Hereford College cluster.
At 550 beds, Hereford College — which houses mainly upper-class students — is too large to be a coherent residential college, Neuman said. The University’s recent purchase of the University Forum apartments, near the corner of Ivy and Copeley roads, will help replace the upper-class beds lost by the conversion of the two Hereford dorms.
The new construction at the Hereford site will include improvements designed to counter the sense of isolation felt by previous residents. Vaughan Road, now a dead-end street, will be connected to Hereford Road, which will allow bus service to the site, Neuman noted.
While the phased dorm replacements will affect generations of students, they will be able to take refuge in the sparkling-new Observatory Hill dining hall, which hosted the June 10 Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting. Board members received tours of the three-story structure, which features impressive views of Monticello and Brown’s mountains from the third-floor dining terrace. The dining hall will open in August; the buildings it replaces, the old O-Hill dining hall and The Treehouse, will be razed this summer.
The board also endorsed design guidelines for a new medical education building near the corner of 15th Street and Lane Road. The six-story, 60,000- to 65,000-square-foot structure will be grafted onto the MR-5 building and linked to Jordan Hall by an elevated walkway over 15th Street.
The board approved architects for two more projects. Kinley Horn and Associates Inc. of Chesapeake will design the Arts Grounds parking garage, and Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York was selected to design the new building for the Curry School of Education.
Purchasing up from minority- and woman-owned businesses
Stepping up efforts to patronize more woman- and minority-owned businesses, the University has tripled its spending with minority firms after three quarters, Vice President for Management and Budget Colette Sheehy told the board’s Special Committee on Diversity on June 9.
Gov. Mark Warner issued new requirements last July to increase the state’s purchasing from businesses owned by women and minorities, as well as from small businesses. His actions came after an independent study found that total state spending with minority-owned firms in 2003-2004 was less than 0.44 percent. U.Va.’s percentage of procurement was only slightly higher.
Sheehy described recent activities intended to increase U.Va.’s communication with these businesses, including co-sponsoring a workshop at the May 3 Virginia Business Opportunity Fair and having Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, give a talk at the fair.
On committee chairman Warren M. Thompson’s suggestion, Sandridge wrote letters to 100 majority firms urging them to seek subcontracting with small, woman- and minority-owned firms.
Sheehy’s office also has been working with the state’s Department of Minority Business Enterprise and the Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council to help streamline the certification process required of qualifying firms. On Grounds, Procurement Services has been spreading the word to purchasing professionals emphasizing the consideration of such firms.
The percentage of University purchasing from minority-owned businesses jumped from 0.65 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2005 to 2.21 percent in the fourth quarter. With women-owned businesses, the percentage rose from 2.56 percent to 3.75 percent.
Rector Gordon F. Rainey Jr. said that although the University is “getting traction” in diversifying its procurement sources, “none of us is satisfied with where we are. We want to see status reports at every meeting.”
Updating the board on another major diversity initiative, Vice President for Finance Yoke San Reynolds, who is leading the national search for the new Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, reported that three to four finalists are being brought to the Grounds for interviews. The search committee hopes to make a recommendation by the end of July, she said.
No surprise: Board commits to restructuring initiative
It was posted on the agenda as a “policy discussion,” but there was little give-and-take June 10 as the board formally committed itself to pursuing the highest level of autonomy available under the Higher Education Restructuring Act, passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.
Under the act, there are three levels of autonomy available to the state’s public colleges and universities. By voting to affirm 11 principles, the University automatically qualified for the first level, which provides additional autonomy in procurement, personnel, building projects, leases and information technology. The University already had substantial authority in many of those areas, Sheehy said.
In a separate vote, the board declared its intention to seek the third level of autonomy: a management agreement negotiated with the state. Once the agreement is in place, the University will be eligible for additional financial incentives.
The University will seek to negotiate the agreement by Labor Day, Sheehy said, for inclusion in the state budget formulation process. If approved by the General Assembly, the agreement would take effect on July 1, 2006.
The board’s votes came with little discussion, which was not surprising. U.Va. was among the leaders of the schools pushing for autonomy.
“We all know where the work has come from,” said Rainey, “and we all know where the intellectual drive has come from — and it’s come from the University of Virginia.”
Alcohol abuse prevention efforts detailed
Susan Bruce, director of the Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education, and Dr. James Turner, director of student health, updated the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee on the University’s alcohol-abuse prevention efforts on June 9.
Surveys, both national and internal, show that negative consequences of alcohol abuse are on the decline at the University, they said.
They credited a “social norms” education program that informs students about how much their classmates really are drinking, which is often less than they perceive.
“We would never declare victory,” said Turner, who nonetheless expressed “cautious optimism” over the program’s results.
Asked when University officials inform parents about problem drinking, Turner and Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president for student affairs, offered two answers.
Lampkin said that her office makes a judgment call, based upon “pattern and severity” of behavior. “We make those calls much more easily than we did 15, 20 years ago.”
Turner, however, noted that the medical records of students over age 18 are confidential, unless the student’s life is in danger.
He later noted that parents’ insurance is often billed for emergency-room treatment, so they are often informed in that manner.
- Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs, reported that the capital campaign had raised $642 million through April. That is 21 percent of the $3 billion goal with 17 percent of the campaign’s schedule elapsed. For the current year, $156 million had been raised through April, which is 4 percent ahead of last year’s total.
- The Buildings and Grounds Committee heard an interim report on a historic preservation survey being conducted by a committee working with the Office of the Architect. All University structures and several landscapes will be assigned to one of five “preservation priority categories,” based upon their “association with people or events important to U.Va.’s history, quality of original design, integrity of the design, and condition.” The report, funded by the Getty Foundation, is nearing completion.
- The Student Affairs and Athletics Committee warmly welcomed new head men’s basketball coach David Leitao, who thanked U.Va. for the opportunity to coach. Noting that, “whether fair or unfair,” college athletics often shapes public perceptions of universities, he vowed that his teams would represent U.Va. well.
- The External Affairs Committee approved a measure that recognized the Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning as a University-affiliated foundation, making it eligible to benefit from the University’s development efforts. JILL provides adult-education opportunities to community members.
- The board was informed that Pavilion III has been assigned to Pat Lampkin, vice president for student affairs, and her husband, Wayne Cozart, director of alumni affairs at the U.Va. Alumni Association. They received a five-year lease, renewable for another five years, and plan to move in by Aug. 1.