Convergence Center Planning Continuing

In 2008, the General Assembly provided UMW with $1.5 million to conduct initial planning for the Information and Technology Convergence Center.  The preliminary design process is just about complete, and the project has entered a stage known as “value engineering.”  At this stage, a firm is hired to review project plans as they have progressed and to make recommendations for design improvements and potential cost savings.

This is a mandatory step in the capital outlay process as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The value engineering recommendations were presented at the end of October, and the UMW building committee has reviewed those recommendations and will provide a written response.

Once the preliminary design process is completed, about all we can do is wait until the state is in a position to authorize construction funding.  The Convergence Center is on a list of projects that may be funded if the state decides it has the required debt capacity to authorize new capital projects.  The Convergence Center is one of many projects throughout the state that would be considered for possible funding.  It is unclear when we will know whether this project will be in line to receive construction funding.

A brief overview of the project follows.

The proposed building, four stories tall and approximately 76,720 square feet in area, would incorporate a variety of spaces enabling students, faculty, and staff to interact with one another on both curricular and extracurricular tasks and projects. While some of these spaces will have fixed uses, others are flexible and capable of being easily reconfigured from one use to another.

The building will be technology-rich and designed to facilitate the application of current innovative learning technologies and structured to permit smooth transitions to new technologies as they develop.  Self-service workstations and spaces outfitted with computer, video production, and other similar technologies are included in the design, along with more sophisticated spaces geared for higher-end (primarily staff) users. Group collaboration spaces, designed to incorporate digital collaboration software and equipment, are also a part of the proposed building.

Work spaces are designed to promote collaboration and creativity.  Conference rooms and seminar-style rooms are designed to support multiple functions including faculty development activities, technical training, workshops, demonstrations, colloquia, guest speaker presentations, and videoconferencing.

The Center is currently planned to serve as the new head-end and data center for the UMW campus network.  The building and its equipment will be capable of holding massive digital archives and will serve as a central point of access for network-based resources.

The facility will incorporate office and administrative functions, storage, shipping and receiving, and support functions.  Other features include a 162-person digital auditorium space for entertainment, classes, lectures, training, and a variety of performances. Also included are multi-function conference rooms, classrooms, performance and gallery spaces, and corridor niches that can be used for a variety of learning purposes and activities.

If you desire additional information, you can take a look at the architects comprehensive design report for the project.

The current members of the Convergence Center building committee are:

• Rick Pearce, Acting Vice President for Business and Finance

• Dana German, Vice President for Instructional Technology and Chief Information Officer

• Jerry Slezak, Director, Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies

• Gary Hobson, Capital Outlay Director

• Jack Bales, Reference Librarian

• Cedric Rucker, Dean of Student Life

• Nina Mikhalevsky, Professor of Philosophy

• Jeff McClurken, Associate Professor of History

• Hall Cheshire, Executive Director of Enterprise Information Systems

• John Morello, Associate Provost (committee chair)

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