Update on Convergence Center Planning

I wanted to provide a short update on the development of the Convergence Center plans.  As you’ll hopefully recall from the items in the November 2010 and May 2011 newsletters, the proposed location for the Convergence Center is on campus walk, next to the Library (and it will connect to the Library on one floor).  The new building will occupy a footprint on both sides of campus walk – you’ll actually feel like you are walking through it as you traverse from the Library to, say, Jepson or Goolrick.

The state has authorized construction of this project, and the anticipated start date is sometime in May 2012 (after Commencement activities).  The current schedule calls for the building to open in August 2014, with the start of the fall semester.

The building proposed is four stories tall and approximately 76,000 square feet in area (roughly the size of the Jepson Science Center, to give you an approximate reference point).  It will include a variety of spaces designed to enable students, faculty, and staff to interact with one another on both curricular and extracurricular tasks and projects.

Perhaps “academic learning commons” is a more descriptive term for the sorts of uses that will take place in the building.  It will be an intersection of teaching, learning, library resources, and technology resources in a space designed as an open, inviting, and active gathering place for students, faculty, and staff.  The Convergence Center label was initially designed to express the connection of these various resources – a “coming together” in a building that 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.  There’s no question that “Convergence Center” isn’t the most recognizable name.  But hopefully we are slowly getting the word out about what the building involves.

Over time, perhaps we’ll shift what we call the building.  But for now, think of it in terms of some of the specific spaces that will be included inside the building.  Some of those spaces are:

— A “Digital” Auditorium (seating up to 162 with four different seating configurations available)

— Six meeting/conference rooms

— Four “high tech” and specialized classrooms, one of which is an “incubator classroom” (a place to try out new teaching technologies)

— Audio/video production labs and a small video studio

— Collaboration spaces (with “self service” computer and a/v equipment)

— 24/7 student study spaces

— Open gathering/mingling spaces with self-service computer and e-mail stations available

— Library and Technology Center “intersection” space

— A location for the Library’s digital archiving activities

— Numerous display areas

— Staff offices (for DTLT, User Services, Technology Training, the Teaching Center Director)

— New locations for the Speaking Center and the Fredericksburg campus Writing Center

— New UMW Data Center location

— Computer/technology purchasing and delivery location

— A café (to be located directly off campus walk and next to the Library)

And that’s not even all there is!  Go to the Provost’s web site, and select the Convergence Center tab.  Then, take a look at the current floor plan for the building.

Development of the building plan continues under the oversight of the Building Committee, first established in August 2008.  The committee added new members in July 2011 once it was clear that the state had approved us to proceed with the project.

The current members of the Convergence Center building committee are:

• Rick Pearce, Vice President for Administration and Finance

• Justin Webb, Acting Vice President for Instructional Technology and Chief Information Officer

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

• Gary Hobson, Capital Outlay Director

• Rosemary Arneson, University Librarian

• 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)

Additionally, Gwen Hale (Writing Center and Writing Program Director), P. Anand Rao (Speaking Intensive Program Director), and Esther Yook (Speaking Center Director) have been active participants with the Building Committee when the discussions have turned to the development of their spaces in the building.

The firm of Hanbury, Evans, Wright, and Vlattas (project architects) are busily preparing the construction documents that they hope to submit to the state’s Bureau of Capital Outlay Management (BCOM) by late January or early February 2012.  A sub-group of the UMW Building Committee is reviewing proposals from firms seeking to function as the construction manager for the project.  As events warrant, additional details will be posted at the Provost’s web site so that you’ll be able to stay informed about the project.

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