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Board of Visitors approves demolition of U-Hall

The demolition could be completed as soon as 2020

<p>The John Paul Jones Arena is University students' go-to destination for the biggest musical acts.</p>

The John Paul Jones Arena is University students' go-to destination for the biggest musical acts.

Members of the University Board of Visitors approved the demolition of University Hall and other athletic buildings during an executive meeting in the Rotunda Friday afternoon. 

The Board also approved a Master of Public Safety degree program in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and discussed the University’s Strategic Investment Fund report as well as increased in tuition and housing rates for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. 

The meeting included approval of amendments to the 2017 Multi-Year Capital Plan — an annually updated, long-term plan for projects the University wants to carry out. Some additions included approved funding plans for the demolition of University buildings such as University Hall, Onesty Hall, the Cage and the Sports Medicine building. The plans will begin immediately with utility work before initiating asbestos abatement in the fall in efforts to redevelop the Athletics Precinct and accommodate for future athletic endeavors.

Onesty Hall, the Cage and University Hall are located across from John Paul Jones Arena, between Massie and Copeley road. University Hall originally served as the stadium for the men’s and women’s basketball teams until 2006 with the opening of John Paul Jones Arena.

Senior Vice President for Operations Colette Sheehy presented plans for the U-Hall demolition project, saying the demolition will proceed following results from an Intensive Level Survey under the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The survey will be completed in July and will give the University permission to move further along in the demolition process. If cleared, the demolition will be finished as soon as 2020.

University Hall’s outer ring currently serves as an important area for athletes, holding administrative offices and locker rooms for sports such as men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and track and field. The arena portion on the other hand is no longer in use, as the building needs to undergo “significant repairs” such as new roofing, asbestos abatement and various upgrades.

The cost to demolish these buildings is expected to range between $12 and $14 million. All other projects, including the construction of temporary modular units and sports training structures, will also cost several million dollars.

The Executive Committee also approved a new degree program to be offered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, specifically with a focus on obtaining a Master of Public Safety. Through online instruction and face-to-face sessions, this two-year program will prepare students to understand public issues and skills using evidence-based strategies and critical thinking.

The program is now pending approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. 

The Board also discussed the Strategic Investment Fund Report and upcoming finances for the University. University President Teresa Sullivan explained the report in detail.

The Board approved $5 million dollars from the Strategic Investment Fund and the Office of the President to be allocated for the expansion of undergraduate scholarships. The funding will specifically provide 50 additional Blue Ridge scholarships and 50 additional University Achievement awards.

In addition, $1.5 million from the fund will be allocated to the Bridge Project proposed by the Dean’s Working Group for increased diversity programming seeking to engage the University and community members following the events of Aug. 11 and 12. Sullivan created the Dean’s Working Group to assess the University’s response to the events of Aug. 11 and 12 when white nationalists marched down the Lawn and hosted the deadly Unite the Right rally the following day.

Sullivan also noted the allocation of $80,000 for a campus climate survey.

“I am covering the cost of that survey, through presidential funds, the revised budget was $64,000, and it is actually in the field right now,” Sullivan said in the meeting.

A large portion of the board meeting was geared towards the tuition and housing rates of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. After gaining approval by the Board Finance Committee in March, the University’s College at Wise decided to increase the tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students by three percent. Members of the Committee said they believe increasing the tuition will allow for a balanced operating budget, under the College at Wise’s Six Year Plan. 

The College of Wise's housing rates stood at $6,202, compared to the average housing rate of $6,007 for Virginia public colleges and universities. After initially proposing to not increase the housing rates for the 2018-19 academic year, the committee decided to approve this plan. Tuition rates on the other hand will increase by two percent for in-state students, and 2.45% for out-of-state.

In an interview with The Cavalier Daily following the executive meeting, Donna Henry, Chancellor of the University’s College at Wise, said trying to increase enrollment is the school’s biggest issue.

The committee talked about the College relying more on the University for enrollment increases. Kathy Still, the director of Media Relations for the University’s College at Wise, said they have an existing recruitment plan in collaboration with the University. 

“We already have a plan in place that allows waitlisted U.Va. students, if they like, to get immediate admissions to the College at Wise with the ability to transfer seamlessly to the University for their last two years if they maintain a good academic record,” Still said. “We hope that a comprehensive campaign to bring attention to the College at Wise and its programs will yield short and long term results.”

The Board of Visitors’ next series of meetings are scheduled for June 6 through June 8.