BY JEFF BRANSCOME
The University of Mary Washington won’t start construction of a $50 million student center this summer as was originally planned.
Groundbreaking has been rescheduled for the summer of 2013 at UMW’s Fredericksburg campus. That pushes the center’s anticipated opening back a year to 2015.
Chandler Hall—next to College Avenue and Ball Circle—will be demolished to make room for the approximately 110,000-square-foot student center.
Chandler is home to the departments of business administration and psychology, which will have to relocate to temporary sites when construction begins.
Those programs won’t have permanent homes until the Woodard Campus Center and Mercer Hall are renovated and expanded at a cost of $14 million.
Uncertainty over state funding for the renovations is why the campus center’s groundbreaking was delayed, said Rick Pearce, UMW’s vice president for administration and finance.
“If we can avoid leaving them in temporary facilities for an extended period of time, I’d like to do that,” he said of the departments of business and psychology.
Business administration will temporarily move to the second floor of George Washington Hall. Psychology will occupy mobile units along College Avenue.
Pearce said he hopes they spend no more than two years at those locations.
The business administration department will then permanently move to what’s now the Woodard Campus Center, which will get renovations and a 1,600-square-foot addition for two lecture halls, based on current plans.
The department of psychology will move into Mercer Hall—currently unoccupied—after Mercer gets renovations and a 1,200-square-foot addition.
UMW officials had hoped to start work on Woodard and Mercer this summer.
Currently, the best-case scenario is for the university to receive construction funds in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013. If that happens, the renovations could be finished by fall 2014, Pearce said.
He said the school is also considering “alternative financing” for Woodard and Mercer, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
In a letter to UMW faculty, staff and students, Pearce acknowledged that the delay isn’t welcome news. The student center, which will be almost triple the size of Chandler Hall, will include a dining hall.
“I assure you that we will move forward with the planning process for the new Campus Center, and we will work to coordinate sequencing of all of these projects in the most prudent and logical manner possible,” Pearce wrote.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402