Board of Visitors adopts campus master plan, approves construction of new living learning center
During its quarterly meeting held in Blacksburg on Monday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a resolution to adopt the 2018 campus master plan — a document that will help guide the physical development of the Blacksburg campus and its 11 agricultural research and Extension centers through 2047.
The plan, managed by the Campus Master Plan Committee, which included students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Visitors, sets out a vision for what the Blacksburg campus might look like 30 years from now, building off the goals, objectives, and aspirations of the 2016 Beyond Boundaries visioning process. The development of the plan spanned more than two years and engaged hundreds of campus and community members through more 200 presentations and town hall-style meetings.
“The campus master plan is not a blueprint for future development, rather it is a flexible, adaptable, and evolutionary document that will help university leadership make good decisions in the future,” said Vice President for Operations Sherwood Wilson. “The plan sets forth principles for smart growth while preserving and enhancing the unique character of the main campus. It incorporates a deep analysis of supporting infrastructure, such as transportation, accessibility, utilities, and stormwater, as well as university assets that exist beyond Montgomery County.”
Given the comprehensive nature of this plan and the multiple visioning and strategic planning processes that occurred in tandem with the plan’s development, some elements of the plan have not yet been finalized, including those for the Roanoke Health Sciences and Technology District and the university’s footprint in the National Capital Region.
Board members also approved a resolution to construct the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Center. The proposed $105.5 million project includes an approximately 203,000-square-foot building to be located next to the Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown between Kent and Otey streets. The project scope includes a three-winged, interconnected 596-bed residential life facility that includes academic, social, research, and collaboration space.
It is anticipated that the new living-learning center will be completed in 2021.
A design preview of the new living-learning center was among three previews presented to the board at Monday’s meeting. Initial design concepts for the student wellness improvements in War Memorial Hall and a proposed undergraduate science laboratory to be located in what is now the Perry Street lots were also presented during the meeting.
In other actions, the board approved a resolution to create a new Master of Science degree program in nutrition and dietetics through the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The new degree program will prepare graduates to develop and implement programs that promote dietary guidelines and healthy dietary behaviors for both individuals and communities. Graduates of the program will enter careers in nutrition counseling and will find employment as registered dietitian nutritionists in hospitals and other health facilities, research centers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, and restaurants.
Pending approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the new Master of Science degree program in nutrition and dietetics will be offered starting in the fall of 2019.
The board passed a resolution to create a policy on adding names to the Virginia Tech Memorial Pylons. The new policy formalizes the long-standing tradition held by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets as the guardians of the War Memorial Pylons, a deeply held and symbolic campus structure that bears the names of students and alumni who were killed defending our nation’s freedom, beginning with those lost during World War I. The new policy, which reaffirms the university’s commitment to remember and respect the sacrifice of those who died and those affected by their loss, will define the criteria and procedures for the addition of individual names to be etched onto the Pylons.
The board approved the demolition of 16 small agricultural barns and sheds, all of which are beyond their serviceable or useful life, at Virginia Tech sites in Montgomery County. These demolitions are in conjunction with the Livestock and Poultry Research Facilities – Phase I project, which will enhance teaching and research spaces available to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The board approved the design review on the project to upgrade existing equipment at the North Chiller Plant (located at the intersection of Stanger and Barger streets) and Southwest Chiller Plant (located on the west side of The Cage Lot off Duck Pond Drive), to install the necessary thermal distribution networks to connect both plants, to provide distribution to existing buildings, and to integrate buildings into the chilled water loop.
The project, scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed in 2021, calls for 4.5 miles of new chilled water mains that will be installed primarily along West Campus Drive, Perry Street, and a few other select locations. The $41.3 million project, funded with both state and university resources, is the second phase of the university’s efforts to enhance its chilled water capacity necessary for cooling buildings and research equipment.
The board also approved the design review of the installation of a 100,000-pound-per-hour boiler at the university’s Power Plant. The additional heating capacity to be provided by this new boiler is an important component of the university’s utility master plan. Additional heating capacity is needed to accommodate planned campus growth. In addition, use of a natural gas and oil-fired boiler represents a continuation of the university’s efforts to emphasize sustainability and energy efficiency in campus operations.
This $6.8 million project, to be completed in 2019, is funded through university resources that will be recovered over time from future energy savings from more-efficient operations.
The board also approved a resolution to revise the Commemorative Tributes Policy. A review of the policy, first established in 1969, was recently undertaken to prepare for the university’s next major fundraising campaign. The revision updates the Commemorative Tributes Committee membership, provides additional guidelines for the naming of existing spaces, and delegates authority to the university president to approve a proposed naming contingent upon subsequent approval by the full board.
Several presentations on current university initiatives were also included on the two-day board agenda. Dean Robert Sumichrast provided a summary of current initiatives in the Pamplin College of Business, Executive Director Stefan Duma spoke on research activities in the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, and Ruth Waalkes presented on the Arts at Virginia Tech as the Moss Arts Center marks its fifth year of operation.
In addition, Dean Julie Ross provided an update on the College of Engineering’s inclusion and diversity efforts and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs, provided an update on the university’s strategic planning process. Annual reports on campus security, campus safety and preparedness, campus sustainability, university research, university debt ratio and debt capacity, and student financial aid resources were also presented to the board.
The board recognized five faculty members with new appointments to endowed professorships and honored 11 faculty members with emerita/emeritus status. Stories on each of these individuals will be published in Virginia Tech News beginning next week.
The next full meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be March 31-April 1, 2019, in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors is found online.