Board Gets Update on Multipurpose Facility, Hears Plans for New Psychology/Medicine Joint Project
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Just as one phase of the University of Vermont’s ambitious plan to remake its physical campus has reached an inflection point, with seven new or renovated buildings recently completed or under construction, UVM leadership shared its vision for a new generation of impressive facilities at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Headlining the presentation were detailed new drawings of UVM’s long-anticipated multipurpose center, which the board had authorized the university to create at its February meeting.
The board saw a variety of new renderings of the facility’s exterior and interior, including of an events center that will serve as the home for men's and women's basketball and host a variety of campus and public events, a transformational renovation of Gutterson Fieldhouse for men's and women's hockey and dramatic upgrades to the health, wellness and recreation facilities for the entire campus. The upgrades will result in a five-fold increase to the amount of dedicated space available for campus recreation.
According to Bob Vaughan, director of capital planning and management, the new schematic drawings the board saw represent about 20 percent of the project’s total design work. To move the project design through the next phase, the board authorized UVM to spend up to $1 million, all in private gifts, to finish the design development process and determine a final budget for the new facility.
Vaughan said he would give the board an update on the project at its February meeting and hopes to present the final plans and budget at the May meeting.
Groundbreaking could happen as early as spring 2019, Vaughan said, provided fundraising goes as planned. UVM Foundation president Shane Jacobson said the project was generating significant interest among potential donors. He mentioned one in particular, David Daigle ('89), chair of the UVM Board who, with his wife Beth Daigle ('89), has pledged $1 million to the project. Their gift will be directed toward new facilities that will enhance student health and wellness on campus, as well as programs that encourage all UVM students to lead healthier lives.
The board also got its first glimpse of another future project, just in its formative stages, that would house the Department of Psychological Sciences and researchers from the Larner College of Medicine. The project will include a complete renovation of the Given Building, address over $40 million in deferred maintenance, and construct a new facility adjacent to it. Psychological Sciences is currently located in Dewey Hall, another building in significant need of refurbishing.
“The good news is we can solve this with one collaborative solution,” said Larner College of Medicine dean Rick Morin, who presented the project to the board with Bill Falls, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Faculty researchers from psychology and medicine frequently collaborate. The co-location would lead to even more joint projects, Morin and Falls said. A more detailed plan for the project is under development and will be presented to the board at a later date, Morin said.
In other news:
- The board authorized the university to enter into a five-plus year contract not to exceed $1.4 million with Educational Advisory Board – Student Success Collaborative for advising and retention software and services. Administrators expect that the software will make it much easier to record and widely share among faculty and staff information gathered in student advising sessions and red flag students who may need help. It will also enable the university to improve first-year retention and four-year graduation rates, a key element of President Tom Sullivan’s 2013 Strategic Action Plan.
- The board approved a variety of new degree programs: a minor in Law and Society in the College of Arts & Sciences, a minor in Emergency Medical Services in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences and an MS in Physical Activity and Wellness Science in the Graduate College.
- The board charged a Board Governance Work Group to evaluate potential changes in its composition that could enable the university to address challenges and better reach its goals. The group will seek input from all trustees and other relevant constituents and will submit a proposal to the full board at a later meeting.
For a summary of all action taken by the UVM Board of Trustees at the October meeting, see the consent agenda.