July 10, 2008 — Virginia Delegate Terry Kilgore joined Chancellor David J. Prior Thursday to announce plans for the construction of a $30 million Convocation Center for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
The Convocation Center, which will seat 3,000 for sporting events and 4,000 for concerts or convocation activities, is the largest single capital project in the College’s history. The College hopes to open the Center by the fall of 2011.
Funding for the facility is a result of legislation approved unanimously by the Virginia General Assembly in April and signed by Gov. Timothy Kaine on May 29. The legislation authorizes nearly $1.5 billion in bond financing for building projects at state colleges and facilities over the next two years.
“This is something that has been missing on this College’s campus for quite some time,” said Kilgore, a 1983 graduate of U.Va.-Wise. “This is a great day for U.Va.-Wise and for the entire region.
“This project, while essential to the continued development of the College, will also provide a critical venue to host events in the region,” Kilgore said.
The Convocation Center also will give Southwest Virginia an economic boost as attendees of the various events patronize area businesses during visits to the facility.
Economic developers and regional leaders have long expressed the need in far Southwest Virginia for a facility capable of seating large crowds. Long-range economic plans for the region generally list the need for a Convocation Center as a necessary part of regional growth and development.
“I’ve always said this College is an engine for economic development for the region,” Kilgore said.
Chancellor Prior expressed gratitude for Kilgore and the region’s legislative delegation for the hard work they do in Richmond on behalf of U.Va.-Wise and the region.
“It’s going to be a grand event center,” Prior said. “It represents a unique opportunity for Southwest Virginia.”
The Center is slated to open in three years. Site work is underway.
The Center will be built adjacent to the Humphreys-Thomas Field House at Carl Smith Stadium.
Included in the facility will be:
• An intercollegiate-sized basketball court
• Space to host multiple intramural games, volleyball or scholastic wrestling matches
• Multiple locker rooms
• Official locker room
• Concession and ticketing stands
• Meeting space
• Study area
• Entrance capable of supporting a diverse group of events
The Convocation Center will be constructed in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. LEED is a building certification program designed to improve performance in energy efficiency, water savings, sustainable site development and indoor environmental quality.
College officials hope to use two adjacent lakes as geothermal components in the heating and cooling process for the building.
The Convocation Center announcement comes as UVa-Wise is undergoing the largest building phase in the College’s history. By 2010, UVa-Wise will have a new entrance, three new buildings and five major renovations.
The only branch campus of the University of Virginia, UVa-Wise is ranked among the nation’s top ten public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. UVa-Wise offers Virginia's only undergraduate degree in software engineering, among 28 other degrees and professional programs in the liberal arts tradition of Thomas Jefferson.
This article originally appeared on the U.Va.-Wise Web site.