Established as a place where “the far-flung interests of the University could have some manner of mutual contact,” the first student center at the University of Virginia opened in 1934 at Madison Hall. Located across the street from the Rotunda, Madison Hall was home to the YMCA prior to being leased by the University to become the first center for student activities. Madison Hall served this purpose until 1958.
Newcomb opened in 1958 and was named in honor of the University's second president, John Lloyd Newcomb (1881-1954). President Newcomb was known first and foremost as an educator and was vitally interested in students throughout his career at the University. He arrived as a graduate student in Civil Engineering, later serving as a Professor and the Dean of Engineering. Later he assumed the post of Assistant to the President, Acting President, and eventually President of the University.
The opening of Newcomb marked the dedication of University space to provide a community gathering place and a center for student activities. Newcomb continuously evolves and reinvents itself to meet the needs of the University of Virginia. While the physical layout and amenities of the building continue to change, the purpose and objectives of the building remain consistent with the original vision.
Newcomb programs and services provide opportunities for social interaction and leisure activities, strive to promote diversity of interests and cultural awareness, facilitate student personal growth, exploration, and development while providing the day-to-day amenities necessary to enhance on-Grounds quality of life. A dynamic collaborative effort between student leaders, student staff, and professional staff make the vision a reality.
A major renovation of the building, intended to ensure that the needs of a growing and changing University community are met, was completed in August 1997. Both additions and enhancements provided the opportunity for improved services and programs. A University-wide committee is currently considering future needs of students, faculty, and staff and is focusing on providing additional social gathering space and enhanced student programming venues in an environment supported by current technological infrastructure.
Come visit Newcomb—the place to be at the University of Virginia.