By VALERIE LAPOINTE
Last Friday, members of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors and administration donned white hard hats and gold shovels for the official groundbreaking of UMW’s third campus in Dahlgren, Va.
The University purchased 27 acres along U.S. Route 301 in 2007, according to a university press release from August 2009. This is the site on which the new Dahlgren Center for Education and Research will soon stand.
While a number of other state institutions like Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech offer graduate courses on the nearby Naval base, UMW’s Dahlgren campus will centralize these existing programs in a space especially tailored for technologically supported education while increasing the number of degrees offered, according to the event program.
President Rick Hurley said in an interview with the Bullet that graduate and undergraduate programs in science, engineering, technology, mathematics and other related fields will be available not only to those with access to the base, but also to the community of Dahlgren.
Before the first building is completed, Hurley said UMW will complete an academic needs assessment to make sure that this campus will be fully addressing all the higher education needs of the Naval base and the surrounding community.
“If we find out that they want the kind of liberal arts degrees that we offer at UMW, then we will teach it,” Hurley said in the interview. “Course offerings will not be limited to science and technology.”
President Hurley also said Mary Washington is seeking money for construction costs from the Commonwealth of Virginia. A portion of the tuition proceeds from partner schools will also be going to support the project. The University will set tuition and fees for the new campus.
Partners in this project include George Mason University, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, Germanna Community College, Rappahannock Community College and the Naval Postgraduate School, as listed in the event program.
“This campus is one where we will be the landlord,” Hurley said. “We will run it, but our partners will be doing the teaching. We are helping the state by helping to increase the number of facilities that offer science and technology degrees, because that’s where the future is.”
The first building constructed on the site will be a two-story, 40,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Naval support facility in Dahlgren, according to the program.
According to the 2009 press release, this building will include 21 classrooms with seating for 12 to 40 students, a computer lab, a research lab, group study rooms and a teleconference theatre.
It will also include a 3,300-square-foot multi-purpose room with a catering kitchen and seating for at least 300 people, according to UMW’s 2010 press release about the Dahlgren campus.
In Hurley’s speech during the groundbreaking ceremony, he said the building will also be environmentally friendly. It will feature a “green” roof, meaning there will be plants on top of the building to help insulate it.
He said the building will also feature geothermal heating and cooling, where heat is extracted from the Earth’s core through wells that can transfer heat through pipes, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources. The building has been designed to meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification requirements.
According to the September 2010 press release, the Dahlgren campus is expected to be fully operational in 2012 and will cost around $20.4 million. A second phase consisting of another building and a parking structure has also been proposed.
“Everyone will benefit from this project, but especially the Navy,” said Michael Smith, a commander for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
UMW plans to open the Dahlgren doors to its first group of students in 2012, according to a university press release.
Photo courtesy of Karen Pearlman