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$500,000 gift from Commerce School alum to fund interdisciplinary initiatives

College Of Arts & Sciences And Commerce School Announce Innovative Collaborative Initiative That Includes New Academic Programs And New Construction

April 4, 2002-- University President John T. Casteen III, announced today what he called an unprecedented collaborative venture between the College of Arts & Sciences and the McIntire School of Commerce that will result in 100,000 square feet of additional academic space and the creation of interdisciplinary courses and programs.

For the past six months, Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College, and Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of the Commerce School, have been hammering out the details of a plan that will include trading spaces, sharing spaces, and building new ones. In the end, each school benefits from an increased physical plant.

"More important," Casteen said, "the plan will allow the College and the Commerce School to strengthen the academic and programmatic links between them and to better serve their undergraduate and graduate students.

"I applaud the vision of our deans, Carl Zeithaml and Ed Ayers, to create this exciting new model of education," he added. "Their joint venture reflects on going University-wide discussions that encourage interdisciplinary initiatives and forward thinking. Their work -- and their spirit of cooperation -- may well become a leading example for the rest of the University to follow."

The Commerce School intends to construct a 100,000-square-foot building at the far southeast end of the Lawn. It will front on Hospital Drive and be bordered by Randall and Wilson halls. It will connect to Rouss Hall — Commerce’s earlier home — which will be shared with the College as the primary location of their collaborative programs. Commerce will integrate Rouss into its new complex and assume its renovation and maintenance responsibilities. The College will expand into Monroe Hall, the Commerce School’s home for the past 27 years.

"Over the long term, this collaboration promises to transform the experience of students and faculty in both the McIntire School of Commerce and the College of Arts and Sciences," Zeithaml said. "We intend to create an inspirational physical presence and to facilitate innovation and collaboration among the faculty and students of McIntire and the College. Both the building and the programs will provide students with the best education possible and support the faculty’s outstanding teaching and research activities." He said that it is essential that the Commerce School maintains its sense of place on Central Grounds and that the School continues to incorporate state-of-the art technologies into any new buildings. "We also must make it easy for students to take classes across departments within the University," Zeithaml said. "This exciting new series of initiatives ensures that McIntire and the University will continue to build on a foundation of excellence and innovation."

Zeithaml added that he was pleased to announce a $500,000 gift from 1985 Commerce School alumnus John Griffin, founder and president of Blue Ridge Capital, to fund development of several interdisciplinary initiatives. Griffin’s support reinforces his initial investment in a fund designed to support faculty efforts to create collaborative ventures. "The increased integration of the McIntire School into the University community is a win-win proposition," Griffin said. "Only good things can come from College and Commerce students and faculty learning from each other."

The College and Commerce School faculty are exploring several collaborative initiatives including:

  • An Introduction to Business Course. This course will center on a multi-part business case study about the development of a growth enterprise. It will be open to College students interested in a broad introduction to and understanding of business concepts and functions and may serve as a prerequisite for admission to the Commerce School.
  • Interdisciplinary Courses. Interdisciplinary projects already under development include courses in advertising and promotions offered by the Commerce School’s Marketing Area and the College’s Media Studies Department. The Math Department also is working with the Commerce School’s Finance Area to share and create courses.
  • Expanded Enrollment in McIntire Business Institute and the Summer Finance Institute. This year, the Commerce School’s summer certificate programs will be open to rising fourth-year students. If successful, admission may expand to include rising third-year students. Winter break sessions also are under consideration.
  • An interdisciplinary minor in the College. Depending on the availability of long-term faculty and other resources, the schools will work together to develop a minor in liberal arts and business management. This minor, to be offered by the College, would draw on a combination of Commerce School courses and such College disciplines as psychology, international relations, media studies, and economics.

These course offerings and programs will create additional opportunities for College students to take business-oriented courses, Ayers said. The arrangement is expected to lift some of the enrollment burden in the College’s Department of Economics, which has one of the highest levels of undergraduate student demand in the College.

"As undergraduates have come to believe that business courses are key to landing good jobs in recent years, interest in Commerce and Economics has surged," he said. "We believe that students who seek some practical business training to round out their liberal arts education will find the addition of these interdisciplinary courses particularly attractive."

The additional and shared space will facilitate these programs. The new Commerce School building will enable the School to expand its offices, state-of-the-art classrooms, and already popular capital markets and financial trading center. While the School initially hoped to expand Monroe Hall, the site proved inadequate to support its current and new programs. With the new site, Commerce will meet its 125,000-square-feet space requirement, and the College will gain 21,000 more square feet than expected.

The Economics Department, now split between Rouss and Wilson halls, will occupy space in the new South Lawn complex or another suitable building.

To serve those working in the new South Lawn and Commerce buildings, the College and Commerce will contribute to the construction of a parking structure in the vicinity of Jefferson

Park and Brandon avenues. Both schools also are interested in the creation of a student commons area.

The Commerce School already has begun to raise funds for its new building. The College’s South Lawn Project is being funded by a joint effort of the University’s Board of Visitors and the College Foundation.

Contact: Carol Wood, (434) 924-6189

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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