By JOHN JAMISON
UMW’s Board of Visitors approved a proposal to renovate Willard Hall at a cost of $24.5 million on Friday, Sept. 15.
As many on campus know, Willard Hall was rendered uninhabitable after a steam pipe ruptured underneath the building this past July. The malfunction bumped Willard to the top of UMW’s list of building and renovations.
“Maintenance and renovation assessments and prioritization of work are essentially a continuous process in aligning resources to the highest needs on the campus,” said John Wiltenmuth, associate vice president for facilities services.
Willard Hall is the oldest housing facility on UMW’s campus, and was last renovated in the 1970s.
The proposed renovation calls for the building which previously housed 88 upperclassmen in single rooms, to nearly double in capacity, by providing double rooms for up to 162 students.The renovation plans also focus on improving the electrical and plumbing systems in addition to the prospect of adding a new roof and an elevator.
“The design process for Willard will engage students as well as Residence Life to determine specific features and amenities,” added Wiltenmuth. “These have not been pre-determined.”
The school will be required to maintain certain aesthetic aspects of the building to preserve its 100 plus years of history.
“The cost for the renovations in Willard are on par with similar projects in the state and our own prior experience with the renovations of Randolph and Mason,” said Wiltenmuth.
For underclassmen concerned about the impact that this undertaking may have on their financial situation, tuition itself will not be raised.
“The renovation of Willard Hall will not affect tuition,” said Wiltenmuth. “However, room rates for residence halls will be adjusted over a period of several years to finance the renovation costs. This multi-year approach to financing will reduce the impact on room rates in a single year. Specific rate adjustments have not yet been determined.” This unscheduled project, taking place on a large scale, has elicited various responses from the student body.
“There isn’t anything else specific that I would rather see the money go to since the building (Willard) sort of has to be redone before it can function again,” said senior Will Atkinson. “It’s unfortunate that the school didn’t catch the problem earlier.”
The work on Willard Hall is slated to be completed in August 2019.