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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Master Plan calls for expansion


An expected increase in the number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) students will require an expansion of the University of Mary Washington campus in the near future, according to the Master Plan releseased earlier this week.

“It is anticipated that UMW will grow to 4,500 FTE students by 2019,” according to the final draft of the Master Plan. “However, there will be a shortage of available academic space once enrollment reaches 4,500.”

As of 2009, the number of FTE students stands at 3,812. This increase, for a campus the size of UMW, calls for necessary changes to accommodate those incoming students, which is where the Master Plan comes into play.

Burt Hill Architects, a company with “experience with over 200 campuses nationwide,” executed a five-step process that evaluated the campus in order to identify the necessary changes UMW needs to make in the upcoming years. The master plan is “inclusive and transparent, yet flexible enough to accommodate the needs and desires of each university community.”

The Master Plan is still a draft so there will be “room for input” before it is finalized.

The UMW Preservation Plan was created to accompany the Master Plan and give recommendations before the final decisions are made. The committee behind the Preservation Plan will use a set of criteria to rate each building on a scale of one to four.

“The preservation plan will serve as an informative tool to guide any decisions regarding campus buildings,” states to the UMW webpage.

“We view the two working together as positive,” said historic preservation professor Michael Spencer.

The Master Plan has outlined several project ideas in the draft that may be accomplished in the next few years.

The removal of Chandler Hall in order to build the new Student Center is an example of one of these projects. This four-story building will include “right sized retail and board dining functions, student organizations and student life suites, office space, meeting rooms, ballroom, spirit store and lounge space,” according to the Master Plan.

While the plan is intended to build the university environment, some students are concerned about the constant construction.

“I’m kind of tired of construction,” said sophomore Kyle Evans about the possibility of a new student center. “But I feel it will be worth it.”

Other possible projects in the Master Plan include a variety of changes to campus buildings, including a four-story addition to Jepson Hall to house more classrooms, labs, faculty offices and meeting rooms.

The renovations of Mercer Hall and renewals of already existing academic buildings are also a part of the current Master Plan.

“I just feel like I came here because it was a small school,” said junior Michael Wang. “I’m just uneasy about the direction they seem to be going in with their expansion.”

The Master Plan Final Draft can be read on the UMW Master Plan Webpage.