From student health to the arts – and academic, research-based facilities to recreational space, West Virginia University’s efforts to revitalize and transform the Evansdale Campus reflect the University’s vision for the future, Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese said Friday.
Weese updated the Board of Governors on the multiple projects that, when completed by mid-2016, will result in “a more student-centered and pedestrian-friendly Evansdale campus.”
The redevelopment involves construction of eight new or renovated classroom, research and campus life buildings and associated infrastructure improvements at a total estimated cost of $258.2 million – financed predominantly through bond sales.
Associate Vice President for Facilities Randy Hudak said a key piece of the project is Evansdale Crossing, anticipated to be completed in January of 2015, which will significantly improve the student experience on that campus.
The $31 million building, a public-private partnership, will house additional food options, including a brand name restaurant – long requested by Evansdale students; a Barnes & Noble book store; student services offices including registrar, student accounts and financial aid; Innovation Space of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism; and four general education classrooms. The building will also be connected to the Engineering PRT Station, making it accessible to the entire campus.
Other projects, their anticipated completion date and cost, include:
- Law Center Addition/Renovation, May 2014, $25.5 million.
- Student Health and Wellness, August 2014, $16.4 million.
- College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, August 2014, $18.5 million
- Advanced Engineering Research, February 2015, $43.6 million.
- New Agriculture Science and South Agriculture Science, December 2015, $97.4 million
- Art Museum of West Virginia University, November 2014, $ 9.6 million.
- Rerouting pedestrian and vehicular traffic, expanding parking and other infrastructure improvements, Fall 2014, $ 7.2 million
In addition, the Evansdale Greenhouse was completed last year at a cost of $8.9 million and signified the beginning of the redevelopment plan.
Hudak said the projects have included several guiding principles, including increasing the “walkability” by placing parking on the perimeter of the campus; using durable, local and natural materials; creating a sense of place that reflects the University and state; and group related buildings together in “precincts.”
The various projects will also contribute to the local economy through Building & Occupancy Taxes and employment opportunities, Weese said following the meeting.
The improvements are key to fulfilling the University’s 2020 Strategic Framework for the Future, President Jim Clements said, as they will help attract and retain high quality faculty, staff and students, provide additional and improved space for research, foster an inclusive culture and improve global engagement.
The projects also address the age and deferred maintenance of the current buildings and infrastructure and will improve accessibility.
“All these projects are helping us build for the future,” Clements said.
Hudak debuted a “flyby” video showing an artist’s conception of what the reinvigorated campus will look like. It is available at: http://youtu.be/1ypEq1Z7Gxs
Associate Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Elizabeth Dooley updated the Board on the University College, a new centralized home for 5,673 undergraduate and non-traditional adult students with undeclared majors – more than 1,750 of whom are freshmen.
Dr. Dooley said that through reorganization of some administrative roles and restructuring in other areas, the College now offers a new model that features full-time professional advisors and an assistant dean for advising, in place of graduate assistants.
The College also has a new associate dean for academic operations, and will soon hire a director of transitional services to better assist transfer students. Creating partnerships with colleges and schools to create a seamless transition of University College students to complimentary majors is also under way, she said.
Cultivating a culture of care, accountability and the importance of graduating are central to the mission of the college, Dooley said.
Senior Associate Provost Russ Dean reported on WVU’s textbook affordability policy, which outlines compliance with state and federal legislation around the selection, adoption, use and sale of textbooks and supplemental and customized course materials. Textbook options now include digital textbooks and textbook rentals – a growing trend, Dean said, in addition to new and used textbooks.
The goal is to reduce book fees for students, Dean said.
Student Government Association President and BOG member Ryan Campione urged the Textbook Committee to establish deadlines ahead of the semester so that students can get better deals on new and used books.
Chancellor for Health Sciences and soon-to-be CEO of the West Virginia United Health System Christopher Colenda, briefed the Board on the rollout of the health insurance changes associated with the Affordable Care Act and other national healthcare reform topics that have an impact on health in West Virginia. All of the healthcare organizations associated with WVU are developing plans to adjust to a new healthcare environment.
Some of the expected impacts include a reduction in the number of uninsured patients in West Virginia; a drop in federal and state contributions to safety-net hospitals; and the shift of private and public payers away from payments to providers that reward volume of services towards payments that incentivize quality, value and patient clinical outcomes.
The Board also approved:
- The 2013 financial statements and audit report, which remains stable, balanced and positive.
- An institutional Campus Compact report on progress in five focus areas (economic growth, access, cost and affordability, learning and accountability and innovation).
- Committee member substitutions – Ray Lane and Rob Alsop replacing Charles Vest on strategic plan/divisional campus committees
The next meeting of the Board is by telephone on Dec. 20.
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