By SARAH GOODNOUGH
Last week, UMW Provost Nina Mikhalevsky confirmed that the university is making plans to renovate Melchers, duPont and Pollard Hall. The duPont arts complex consists of Melchers Hall, Pollard Hall and DuPont Hall, which house the departments of art and art history, music, theater and dance, respectively.
“They have been renovated off and on for years,” said Mikhalevsky. “The whole complex is in need of renovation and we have hired architects who are in the process of meeting with department chairs and faculty members… We are working on a plan that will result in the renovation of all three buildings.”
Together, they form the university’s cultural arts center. The history of the complex dates back to the 1950s and since its initial foundation, there have been few renovations. Currently, much of the original foundation remains. While the infrastructure is outdated, it presents no danger to the students taking classes within these buildings.
Lately, rumors have been circulating among the student body about this renovation. While Mikhalevsky could confirm that the renovation is in the process of being planned, she cannot say when the project will actually begin.
Jon McMillan, chair of the department of art and art history, weighed in on the discussion. So far, he has had only one meeting with the architects to talk about what will be done with Melchers Hall.
“All of this is extremely preliminary at this point,” said McMillan. “There really are no plans to do anything right now.”
However, if everything pans out well, future UMW students might see an arts complex with larger studios and better infrastructure. This would benefit students within the program as well as encourage those outside of the program to get involved in the arts.
Ideally, the studio sizes will be large enough to allow students to work comfortably while keeping the intimate class size that is characteristic of UMW, as well as enable the school to increase the number of classes offered within the arts programs. This would, in turn allow students enough opportunities to enroll in the classes they need for their degree rather than waiting semester after semester to get into a highly desired class.
“It’s something we’re really in need of, which is why I’m really happy that the administration is moving forward with developing options, but I don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen right away or soon even,” McMillan said. “It would be a huge advantage to our students for this building to be renovated.”
Larger studios and a better layout for the buildings would greatly benefit the students taking classes in the arts programs. “It would create a much healthier environment for them to make artwork in,” McMillan said.
When asked about the future renovation, Riley Anderson, a junior studio art and mathematics double major said, “it’s exciting because this is one of the older buildings.”
Anderson described some of the problems she encounters as an art student, such as the general lack of space in the studios considering the number of students enrolled in each class. She expressed excitement for future art students who will be able to see the finished renovation, should it come to pass.