April 7, 2011 — After World War II, with an influx of veterans entering the University of Virginia on the GI Bill, New Cabell Hall was built. Sitting behind its more stately sister, Old Cabell Hall, it was a practical, quick – and architecturally uninspired – bit of college construction to accommodate an expanding student body.
Not much has changed since. At a press conference on Wednesday in the Rotunda, President Teresa A. Sullivan said, "The classrooms, to put it kindly, are… old. And they're not a lot of fun to teach in." Especially, she added, for faculty members who have an opportunity to teach in the new and technologically advanced classrooms in the South Lawn complex.
That's about to change. Sullivan announced Wednesday that New Cabell will receive a long-needed facelift thanks to the state's allocation of $64.5 million for the project. When completed, New Cabell will house the language, literature and culture departments of the College of Arts & Sciences. The proposed renovation will fully replace the building's systems, replace all interior finishes and add meeting rooms and lounge spaces.
In a statement, Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said the project builds on the South Lawn.
"My hope is that the renovations to New Cabell will provide another outstanding teaching and learning facility on Central Grounds," she said. "A new New Cabell will transform the daily teaching and learning experience of students and faculty in the College."
Renovation of New Cabell Hall has been a top priority for the University. The University had originally requested – and been approved for – $80 million for the renovation, but funding was put on hold in February 2010 due to state concerns about its bonding capacity. The newly approved $64.5 million reflects the state's calculation of what it should take to complete the project in today's construction market.
Construction is expected to begin as soon as possible, and will take about four years to complete because major parts of the building will need to remain open.
Sullivan said later, "Every undergraduate in the College takes classes in New Cabell, as do students from the University's other undergraduate schools. Today's news is great for both our faculty and our students."
Last week, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell added and the General Assembly approved $2.7 million in the state budget for repairs to the Rotunda. "We are grateful to Governor McDonnell and members of the legislature for recognizing these critical needs," Sullivan said. "They have been good to the University."
Wednesday's press conference was a chance for Sullivan to reflect on her eight months as U.Va. president just ahead of her formal installation next week. Asked by a reporter about the necessity and expense of such an event, she said an inauguration is an important ceremonial event in the life of a university. "It's really about the institution," she said. "It gives us an organized opportunity to think about ourselves and celebrate."
The Alumni Board of Trustees had allocated $180,000 for the inauguration, and most other costs are internal – for example, U.Va. Dining Services is the caterer.
"When Colgate Darden was inaugurated, he had the Philadelphia Symphony," she said. "When Edgar Shannon was inaugurated, he had the Hungarian Philharmonic.
"I'm proud to say I will have the Cavalier Marching Band."
Telling reporters she would spare them from asking, she said, "What has surprised me most is the extraordinary loyalty to this institution," she said. "From the day I was elected by the Board of Visitors, I can't walk through an airport anywhere in America without having a U.Va. alum or parent coming up to me and asking, 'Aren't you Teresa Sullivan? Let me tell you about my U.Va. experience.'"
Faculty and staff have similarly demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the University's missions of teaching, research and health care, even in the absence of pay increases since 2007, she said. "The loyalty to the institution, I have found, has just been exemplary," she said.
During the press conference, Sullivan touched on topics ranging from student safety to the looming federal government shutdown to reorganization within the University's topmost ranks.
Asked about the recent death of U.Va. first-year student Thomas Gilliam IV, who fell from the roof of the Physics Building while doing urban exploration, Sullivan said, "These calls that come in the middle of the night make your heart stop." Saying that college students don't assess risk the same way adults might, she added, "We'll get every lesson we can get" from the incident.
Sullivan also said that the University has followed up on issues of dating violence and safety since fourth-year student Yeardley Love was killed nearly a year ago. The student-initiated "Let's Get Grounded" program, which provides instruction in bystander behavior and how to take action, has trained 1,220 people, 1,100 of them students. The goal is 1,500 by the end of the academic year. Increased police presence at the Corner, more late-night transportation and more communication with students about the danger of being alone late at night are also ongoing. Safety and "taking care of yourself" will be emphasized during summer orientation, she said.
A federal government shutdown would be heavily felt at any university, Sullivan said. The most immediate impact will be on researchers with federal grants, who might not be able to pay research assistants or obtain equipment. The U.Va. Medical Center would be affected by disruptions in Medicare and Medicaid. "We're checking with our ROTC military officers to make sure they'll be able to take care of their rent and food," she said.
The searches for successors to Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., executive vice president and provost, who are leaving at the end of the year, are progressing. Sandridge's successor ("notice I didn't say replacement," Sullivan quipped) should be named by the end of May. Vice Provost Milton Adams will become interim provost until Garson's successor is named.
Sullivan said that, in addition to having Dr. Marcus Martin, newly named permanent vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, report directly to her, she is also adding to her direct reports Patricia Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer; James Hilton, vice president and chief information officer; and Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research. Earlier, Craig Littlepage, director of intercollegiate athletics, began reporting to the president.
Sullivan explained that each of these administrators has "portfolios that are University-wide" and this reorganization will make for more efficient communication. The transitions will be completed July 1. Lampkin, Hilton and Littlepage had reported to Sandridge, and Skalak and Martin to Garson.
Asked about the book "Academically Adrift," co-authored by Josipa Roksa, assistant professor of sociology in the College, Sullivan said that selective institutions like U.Va. don't use the assessment that the authors relied upon for their data. Nonetheless, she said, it's important for students to be able to demonstrate what they've learned.
"We look to every department that teaches undergraduates to develop methods like the thesis to give them the opportunity to know what their students are learning," she said, adding that accreditation agencies are increasingly expecting outcomes-based information.
The academic symposium that is part of the inauguration schedule, Sullivan said, will also look at evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning.