Plans to build an Information and Technology Convergence Center between the Simpson Library and the Woodard Student Center have been approved, although the funding and a date for construction await results of a budget amendment that is due for proposal in December.
“All we have authorized is planning funds,” said John Morello, Associate Provost. “The state has not approved the funding necessary to build the building, only the planning. Now we have to wait to see if there is going to be a budget amendment proposed by the governor.”
The initiative for an Information and Technology Convergence Center adjacent to the Simpson Library was included in the report to the Strategic Planning Steering Committee this past spring.
The Convergence Center is intended to be a “physical and philosophical connector,” according to the six-year capital outlay plan from August 2007 on the university’s website.
The plan also adds that the demolition of Mercer Hall may be necessary in order to construct the center.
According to the capital outlay plan, $3.5 million was requested initially to fund planning costs. These costs included architectural and engineering fees.
Additionally, the plan estimated the new construction costs to be around $24 million, and projected a 24-month time period for completion of construction. The source of the funding is yet to be determined.
“At this point, it’s all design,” said Morello.
“They could definitely use more computer labs,” sophomore Elizabeth Lewis said of the library’s current technological resources. “Everyone would benefit because a lot of the labs in Trinkle seem outdated, and are often restricted for use by only students of the computer science majors.”
According to the Phase 1 planning document, the Convergence Center will be “part creativity laboratory for innovative pedagogy and student projects, part advanced-digital-resources nexus supporting instruction, research, assessment, and planning, and part showcase.”
“This is a good thing,” senior William Bowling said. “The computer labs available right now often have too many restrictions on hours to be useful.”
The center will house massive digital archives produced by students of the university, as well as containing digital media production facilities. These facilities, as described by the capital outlay plan, will be used to produce high-quality video and audio information resources.
Workspaces in the center will be designed for collaboration that will allow audiences to view multi-media presentations and high-quality video conferencing sessions.
Currently, no plans for hours of operation or restricted use have been published concerning the Convergence Center.
However, not all students feel that the center would be beneficial.
“If the technology center has the same hours as the labs around campus, I don’t think it’s necessary,” senior Mike Dennie said.
Before construction of the Convergence Center begins, the Report to the Strategic Planning Steering Committee designated improvements to be made on the library.
“The University of Mary Washington should create physical spaces within existing library facilities to support collaborative study, learning and research between students,” the report stated.
The report added that while these physical spaces may eventually exist in the convergence center, delays in building it that could be caused by construction and budget problems should not prevent the creation of a “vibrant and robust learning center” in the library and with current academic technologies.