Dedication of Bavaro Hall Marks New Era for U.Va.'s Curry School of Education

July 19, 2010 — On a hot, humid Friday morning, University of Virginia faculty, students, administrators and friends gathered in the Breneman Courtyard to dedicate Bavaro Hall, a new building expanding the Curry School of Education.

"Today, we are celebrating a great transformation in the life of the Curry School," Curry Dean Robert C. Pianta said. Bavaro Hall "is a world-class building," he said, doubling the available working space and bringing together "programs and people scattered throughout Charlottesville."

The building will "foster collaboration, interaction, the sharing of ideas so critical to academic life," Pianta said. It will "connect the Curry School to the University community and to our partners in the region and throughout the country" and "attract talent, ideas, and energy."

He added that the building extends the school's interdisciplinary model of research and teaching. With its natural lighting, elegant woodwork and numerous formal and informal conversation areas, the building is designed to encourage professional interactions among faculty and students across areas of expertise.

"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."

U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, officiating his final public event as president before stepping down on Aug. 1, lauded the generosity of donors to the Curry School's capital campaign, as well as the Stern design team.

"Bavaro Hall will have a transitional impact on the way we build buildings and the University architecture," Casteen said.

The building speaks to him about the relationship between the past and future of the University, he said.

"What it does for the Curry School and for the University is provide in one step for dramatic and unprecedented development in the Curry School's relationship with the schools that employ teachers, principals and other professionals who have come through the Curry School's programs," he said. "The front door says to practicing educators that this is a place of consequence."

The $37.4 million, 65,000-square-foot facility was financed with private support, including a $22 million leadership gift from Daniel M. Meyers. Bavaro Hall includes 55 individual faculty offices, 10 conference rooms, five program area suites, four administrative suites, a great room lecture hall, and a two-story atrium designed as a central gathering area.

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. In his remarks, Meyers called 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 cofounded First Marblehead Corporation and is currently its president and chief executive officer, gave an additional $1 million to name the courtyard linking Bavaro and Ruffner halls 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."

Casteen, 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 plaque recognizes Meyers for his generous support of both the school and the University.

Following the formal remarks, guests enjoyed a reception with cake and sparkling cider in the courtyard between Bavaro Hall and Ruffner Hall, the Curry School's home since 1973.

The entire ground level of Bavaro Hall will house the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services [link to: The center, established by newly appointed 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 [link to:] and the Speech-Language-Hearing Center. The dedication for the center is scheduled for Oct. 16.

A community grand opening celebration for Bavaro Hall is planned for Sept. 23, once students have returned for the fall semester.

— By Lynn Bell