Dec. 13, 2007 — Renovations to the University of Virginia's largest classroom building and a new building for the School of Engineering and Applied Science are among the projects that would be funded under a proposed $1.65 billion bond package for higher education needs, announced today by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine as a part of his planned investments in higher education.
Under Kaine's plan, which must be approved by the General Assembly and state voters, U.Va. would receive $115.5 million for the two projects — the second-highest total among state four-year institutions, slightly behind Virginia Tech's $117.9 million.
Kaine's proposal includes $77.6 million toward the projected $80 million renovation of New Cabell Hall. The building had once been targeted for demolition as part of the South Lawn Project before it was determined that renovation would be more cost-effective.
The balance of U.Va.'s funds under the bond proposal, $37.9 million, would go toward a new Information Technology Engineering Building. The Buildings and Grounds Committee of U.Va.'s Board of Visitors is scheduled to review preliminary site plans for the building at a meeting Friday.
"Gov. Kaine's proposal is a very fine one and we're grateful for his and the legislators' support," Virginia President John T. Casteen III said. "The IT Engineering building is the third and final major component of the Virginia 2020 Science Plan that we put together in the late 1990's to deal with significant deficiencies in our science facilities.
"The ability to renovate New Cabell Hall is an excellent recycling of a major state resource. The building was built by the state just after World War II. The type of rebuild we're looking at is 60 percent of the cost of a replacement. It is an efficient way to use resources. We are especially fortunate to have the Governor's commitment to undergraduate education which is the primary business conducted in New Cabell."
Both projects were submitted to the state in the University's six-year capital improvements plan.
Standing with college presidents and business leaders from across the Commonwealth at Virginia Commonwealth University, Kaine emphasized the importance of ensuring that Virginia's future economy remains strong through strategic investments in higher education.
"The proposed bond package supports innovative research, providing facilities across Virginia for researchers to develop new, cutting-edge technologies and turn them into commercial assets," Kaine said. "Our colleges and universities also help us build a workforce prepared to compete in a global economy. These investments will help Virginia's higher education network keep delivering for our future."
The new construction and renovation projects in the package primarily focus on workforce development, enhancing capacity, retaining students, research and providing modern facilities for areas with demonstrated needs, such as education, engineering, nursing, business and the sciences. The proposed package is composed of funding through a general obligation bond and through the Virginia College Building Authority. The general obligation bond must be passed by the General Assembly and requires approval by voters in a general referendum on Election Day in November of 2008.
Kaine's proposed budget also includes an additional $22.1 million in general funds and $22.9 million in nongeneral funds in each year of the next biennium for college and university operations, as well as a $9.1 million increase in student financial aid.
To further Virginia's efforts to diversify the economy through research and development, the proposed budget includes a comprehensive general fund research package. In fiscal year 2009, the governor has proposed $29 million to cover the third year of a three-year commitment to enhance research efforts at the Commonwealth's higher education institutions. To date, this state funding has resulted in an estimated return of $150 million from federal and private research funding.
Kaine has also proposed $40.5 million over the biennium for a competitive research program specifically focused on the link between higher education institutions and economic development. The competitive grant program will reward university collaboration, private sector participation, and support for economically-distressed regions across the Commonwealth. The research package was based on recommendations by Virginia's Research and Technology Advisory Commission, including leaders across the public universities, federal labs and the technology industry. The funding includes $10.5 million in general funds for the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund and $30 million in Higher Education Equipment Trust bonds.
The proposed budget also includes funding for four specific research facilities:
• $7.5 million of general fund support over the biennium is provided to Jefferson Labs to leverage a $300 million investment by the federal government for an enhanced accelerator facility
• $1 million in fiscal year 2010 to Hampton University to support a new proton beam cancer therapy facility
• Over $2 million for the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium in efforts to explore alternative forms of energy
• $7 million dollars for the creation of the SRI east coast research facility near Harrisonburg.