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BOV discusses proposed schematics for new Hotel and Athletic Complex, nursing program at College of Wise, retention schedules to promote cybersecurity

While the University’s budget has undergone changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many improvement projects are still in the works for the 2021-22 year

Three committees of the Board of Visitors — The Buildings and Grounds Committee, the Committee on the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee — met Friday morning to discuss a number of projects and plans for the coming years as well as give reports on internal affairs within the University. 

The session began with the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting, which met to review schematics for the new University Hotel and Conference Center as well as a new athletics complex. They also discussed the addition of new air-conditioning units in Lambeth Field Apartments. 

University Architect Alice Raucher presented her schematics for the Hotel and Conference Center, which will become a “hub” for students and the broader Charlottesville community. The designs include event and social spaces such as a cafe, meeting rooms and a ballroom.

The hotel, which was designed by the Emmet Ivy Task Force, will be attached to the southwest portion of the Emmet Ivy parking garage and its design will be coordinated with the Data Science building — located at the intersection of Ivy and Emmet — to ensure design continuity. 

Raucher also presented plans for the new athletic complex, which will be comprised of a new football operations center and olympic sports center as well as the renovation of McCue Center, the current primary home of Virginia football. 

The committee hopes the new complex will help bring student athletes together and establish continuity between the sports buildings in the North Grounds as well as make them more accessible to pedestrians. The complex will be connected to Central Grounds by a promenade stretching from Goodwin Bridge to the new Welsh Indoor Football Practice Facility.

Director of Athletics Carla Williams and Angela Mangano, BOV member and former University women’s soccer player, believe that the new complex will not only help to professionalize the University’s athletic program but also help foster connections between student-athlete programs. The Board has plans to construct a Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics off of the pedestrian promenade and athletic plaza to provide a forum for engagement for all University student-athletes. 

The Athletic Complex and new hotel are both designed to utilize the highest appropriate level of sustainability. The infrastructure of the hotel is solar panel-ready and the build includes plans to preserve storm water. Sustainable designs in the athletic complex include LEED certification of the buildings to achieve low energy usage and water conservation.

Colette Sheehy, senior vice president for operations and state government relations, then presented a proposal to address mold concerns in Lambeth Field Apartments resulting from negative pressure and humidity issues in the complex. The committee plans to replace the buildings’ outdated heating and cooling units — which were installed when Lambeth was first built in the 1970s — for updated more energy-efficient ones. The project will cost an estimated $14.5 million and will be funded by debt, which will later be paid back via endowment earnings. 

While the Major Capital Plan for the 2020 fiscal year included $3.16 billion in funding for new projects, this year’s Major Capital Plan saw significant cuts due to budget constraints brought on by COVID-19. Between the 2020 Major Capital Plan and the 2021 Major Capital Plan, $142 million in projects were removed per the project sponsor and $866.2 million in previously-authorized projects are now deferred to future years. 

Mazzen Shalaby, fourth-year Batten student and student representative on the Board, voiced hope that the Lambeth renovations would open up conversation regarding making on-Grounds housing more equitable in the future, namely ensuring that students aren’t paying equal amounts for significantly different on-Grounds housing conditions. 

The Board then moved into their session on the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. 

Donna Price Henry, chancellor of the University’s College of Wise, spoke about COVID-19, enrollment at Wise, the search for two new vice chancellors and Wise’s strategic plan. She expressed satisfaction with Wise’s progress and optimism for the future.  

“Although I believe we all face uncertainties … in light of the pandemic and other factors, I believe the future is bright at both U.Va. and U.Va. Wise and I look forward to continued partnerships and transformation and ingenuity with colleagues in Wise and in Charlottesville,” Henry said. 

The most resource-intensive safety measure Wise has implemented to combat COVID-19 is weekly prevalence testing for 7.5 percent of the campus community, faculty, staff and students as well as testing all students returning to campus — testing revealed only four positive cases out of 1,110 when students were tested in the fall. 

Along with instituting a number of health, hygiene and sanitation protocols, Henry described the many new activities the student affairs team has organized for students outside of the classroom. These activities include virtual bingo, movies on the lawn, College-wide lectures and seminars on race, gender and society. 

Despite a national decline in student enrollment across U.S. colleges and universities due to stressors on family finances and economic uncertainty, Wise enrollment has increased by 2 percent, according to Henry. 

The committee shared plans for developing Wise’s nursing program as part of the school’s overall strategic plan. The college is partnering with the University’s School of Nursing to combat the shortage of skilled health care providers in southwest Virginia and bring the family nurse practitioner program to Wise. The General Assembly has allocated $810,000 of funding to establish the new partnership between the campuses. 

To consolidate the Wise nursing program, the College is also working on renovations of Wyllie Hall, which will serve as a dedicated space for the program. The College hopes to open the program by the fall of 2022. 

Finally, Madeline Lawrence, fourth-year student at Wise and member of the College Advisory Board, testified to her enriching experience at Wise and the resilience of the community. 

“I could definitely spend all day talking about the other opportunities that U.Va. Wise has given me and other students,” Lawrence said. 

The Board then moved into their session on Audit, Compliance and Risk.

Compliance leaders for the University in the Health System briefed the committee on compliance hotlines and incident management and discussed cybersecurity. The Committee stressed effective retention schedules to keep information safe. 

“I find that we're really good at keeping information as an institution and less adept at getting rid of it when we don't need it anymore,” said Gary Nimax, assistant vice president for compliance. “We tend to run into more problems when we have things we shouldn't have than … getting rid of things too early.”

Finally, the Audit Committee discussed an external quality review they are engaged in right now with a consulting company, Protiviti. 

The quality review happens every five years and entails Protiviti interviewing 20 senior leaders from the academic and health system divisions and writing a report about the University’s audit and audit functions. The Board of Visitors will then evaluate the report in its June session to see if the University complies with the Institute of Internal Auditors Standards and see how they can do better.

The Board moved into a closed section to discuss proprietary information about the U.Va. Medical Center.

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