U.Va. Board of Visitors Approves Naming of the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds

April 16, 2010 — At a special meeting Thursday, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors adopted a resolution naming the arts precinct at the University the "Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds." The naming honors John Casteen, who is stepping down after 20 years as U.Va. president, and his wife.

University Rector John O. "Dubby" Wynne announced that more than $6 million raised for the naming will go toward an expansion of the Drama Building. To date, 211 donors have contributed approximately $6.1 million toward the project, the first phase of the Arts Grounds plan, which is also expected to include construction of a new band rehearsal hall and the Arts Commons and an expansion of the U.Va. Art Museum.

"As envisioned, the Arts Grounds will have the power to convene the entire University community and galvanize its collective imagination by providing a showcase for great art and living artists, as well as a forum for new research and innovation," Wynne said.

Five former rectors were in attendance at the Boars Head Inn as the resolution was adopted at an event honoring the Casteens: Joshua P. Darden Jr., John P. Ackerly III, Gordon F. Rainey Jr., Thomas F. Farrell II and W. Heywood Fralin Sr.

The first phase of the Drama Building expansion will accommodate growth of the University's performing arts programs. The expansion includes a thrust-stage theater, rooftop terrace and glass-enclosed lobby connecting the new theater with the Helms and Culbreth theaters.

Casteen made the arts a priority during his tenure, and, under his leadership, the Arts Grounds grew to comprise new and renovated facilities, including:

•    a restored Fayerweather Hall for the art history program;
•    a renovated and expanded Campbell Hall for the School of Architecture;
•    renovated galleries in the Bayly Building for the U.Va. Art Museum;
•    Ruffin Hall for studio art;
•    the Culbreth Road parking garage.

While the president's contributions to the arts and the University were singled out, Wynne and others also lauded Betsy Casteen's commitment to the University and the arts as well as her spearheading of a recent yearlong celebration of the centennial of Carr's Hill, the presidential residence, and the publication of a definitive book about its architectural and residential history.

The Arts Grounds precinct is located west of Rugby Road in the vicinity of Carr's Hill.