Bavaro Hall Is 'Transformative Moment' in U.Va. Curry School of Education History

August 19, 2010 — With the completion of Bavaro Hall this summer, the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education is now represented by a facility that is more consistent with the original architectural style of Jefferson's university than the 1970s-era Ruffner Hall that had been the school's home. Encompassing just shy of 65,000 square feet, Bavaro nearly doubles the school's work space and enables it to house in one complex faculty, education research scientists and students now conducting their research, teaching and outreach work in off-Grounds locations.

"The opening of Bavaro Hall is a truly transformative moment in the history of the Curry School," Dean Robert C. Pianta said. "Bavaro Hall creates for us the possibility of new and deeper collaborations within the school itself and stronger connections with our colleagues across Grounds for academics and research. It also opens up for us the opportunity to develop truly interdisciplinary training and clinical services to children and families in the region," he said, referring to the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services.

"Design matters," Pianta said, praising the work of architect Robert A.M. Stern and his team. Bavaro Hall "is truly the most beautiful building for a school of education in our country."

The entire ground level of Bavaro Hall will house the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services. The center, established with funding by Board of Visitors member Sheila C. Johnson, will bring together four of the school's renowned evaluation and treatment clinics for the first time, creating a unique environment for research and integrated, multidisciplinary clinical services for individuals of all ages.

Those clinics will include the Personal and Career Development Center, the Center for Clinical Psychology, the McGuffey Reading Center and the Speech-Language-Hearing Center.

Bavaro also includes 55 faculty offices, 10 conference rooms, five program area suites, four administrative suites, the grand hall – a multipurpose room for lectures, meetings and special events, and a two-story atrium designed as a central gathering area.

The $37.4 million facility was financed with private support, including a $22 million leadership gift from Daniel M. Meyers.

Rather than naming the building after himself, Meyers asked to name it in honor of his mentor, Anthony "Wally" D. Bavaro, a teacher for 42 years in the Boston area, who was formerly a National Football League player for the San Francisco 49ers. Meyers calls Bavaro "an extraordinary guy" and one whose memory would inspire Curry School faculty and students for decades to come.

A red brick building with white trim, Bavaro Hall is located between Ruffner Hall and Emmet Street, on the site of a former parking lot. The buildings are joined by a pair of walkways running through the Breneman Courtyard garden.

Meyers, who co-founded First Marblehead Corporation and is currently its president and chief executive officer, gave an additional $1 million to name the courtyard for former Curry School Dean David Breneman.

Breneman was at the helm of the school when the idea for the new building was conceived and remained through the entire fundraising period for the building. Pianta praised Breneman for his vision, noting that he knew "how important a building was to the life of this school."

At a dedication ceremony July 14, former U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, Meyers and Christine Bavaro, wife of the late Wally Bavaro, unveiled two plaques. The first dedicates the building to the memory of Bavaro, and the second recognizes Meyers for his generous support of both the school and the University.

A community grand opening for Bavaro Hall is planned for Sept. 23. A dedication for the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services is scheduled for Oct. 16.