OpenGrounds moves out of Corner Building

The move follows the program's new status under the Provost Office


OpenGrounds will be leaving its building on the Corner on Aug. 1.

Kelsey Grant | Cavalier Daily

A flexible meeting space on the Corner for U.Va. students and staff is transitioning to be used for offices for several University programs. OpenGrounds moved out of its Corner building on July 1 and will now be under the Office of the Vice President and Provost instead of the Office of the Vice President for Research, where the program used to be based. 

The Corner building space will continue to be managed by the Office of the Vice President for Research and host collaborative research initiatives. OpenGrounds — which started in 2012 in the Office of the Vice President for Research’s building on the Corner — is dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary faculty and student collaboration, according to Founding Director Bill Sherman. The loss of OpenGrounds will take away flexible meeting space for students and staff, replacing it with office space for more focused projects. 

Leaders have not been given an alternative location from the provost, Sherman told The Cavalier Daily.

“The role of the Vice President for Research became more focused on building the infrastructure to do some more funded research and to increase the amount of funding in research at the University, so it was a little less of a focus on this broader collaborative culture,” Sherman said. “But that mission is still there for the University, so essentially what’s happened this year is moving OpenGrounds from the Vice President for Research to the Provost Office.”

As part of the Provost Office, OpenGrounds will continue to promote collaboration across the University, but under the role of the Provost Office’s more general overview of education and research instead of under the more specialized office of the Vice President for Research. 

Cheryl Wagner, the Office for the Vice President of Research’s chief of staff, said the newly-available space will be primarily dedicated to the Pan-University Institutes, programs similar to OpenGrounds that funds cross-disciplinary research. The Pan-University Institutes — which have already lived inside the building on the Corner for six months — are comprised of 11 separate schools and includes four institutes including the Data Science Institute, the U.Va. Brain Institute, the Global Infectious Diseases Institute and the Environmental Resilience Institute.

“We don’t really have a firm plan on what we are doing except using the Pan-University Institute,” Wagner said. 

In a public email from OpenGrounds about the transition, Sherman cited the change as a chance to reboot the program into an “OpenGrounds 2.0.” In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Sherman said there is an opportunity to reintroduce OpenGrounds as more than a space.

“I think it’s an opportunity to reintroduce the idea of OpenGrounds as more than just a space on the Corner,” Sherman said. “I’d like to do it in addition to space on the Corner, but since that space is being used for other purposes, I think that we have an opportunity to experiment, to try some things. Maybe do some pop-up programs in different places, so we’ll be thinking about different ways to keep OpenGrounds visible, but in the near term, we’re going to lose that space.”

Sherman noted the past success of OpenGrounds as a space for interdisciplinary collaboration among students, faculty and staff. Sherman said OpenGrounds was running about 700 scheduled programs a year while still managing to have open hours for the space.

“It really was extremely successful, it owes a lot of its existence to President Sullivan’s leadership,” Sherman said. “There’s been a lot of University support behind it.”

3 Cavaliers, a cross-disciplinary research funding organization which gives grants to groups of three faculty members in at least two disciplines, will also work from the building on the Corner. 

“The Vice President for Research Office … have been launching a series of initiatives and need space to be able to implement them,” Sherman said. 

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