December 15, 2011

 

 3-phase building project halfway through

 
 

VMRCVM's expansion allows for increased class size, advanced research, and extended services


Construction on the Instructional Addition began this past July and should be completed in summer 2012.
Photos courtesy of VMRCVM
 
posted November 30, 2011

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is well on its way to completing the most substantial renovations and additions to its Blacksburg, Va., campus since the college opened in 1980.

In all, construction could take up to six or seven years to complete the three buildings—the Infectious Disease Research Facility, the Veterinary Medicine Instructional Addition, and the Translational Medicine Building—that are now in various phases of planning, design, and budgeting.

"Really, all construction prior to these three projects was to complete the original plans (for the college), which over the years, for one reason or another, were delayed," said Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland college, calling the projects "quite a substantial addition" to the veterinary college. Financing will come from a combination of federal, state, and college funds and from private sources.

Research and instruction 

The first building to be completed was the $10.5 million Infectious Disease Research Facility that is attached to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and will offer select support services. Construction of the IDRF began in August 2010, and the building was expected to open for use no later than the end of November 2011.

 

This 16,000-square-foot building includes biosafety level-2 research facilities on the second floor and research support space on the first floor for the college's translational animal-model program focused on infectious disease and immunology. It was paid for with $4 million from state money and $6.5 million from the veterinary college's indirect funds.

The second major building project in the works is the addition of a 32,000-square-foot, $14 million Instructional Addition that will alleviate two problems at the veterinary college: a lack of instructional space and inadequate faculty office space.

Dr. Schurig said office space has long been a big area of contention among the 95 or so faculty members because of the current offices' size and lack of privacy.

This new building will include space for approximately 35 new offices for faculty and enable the college to upgrade and renovate the existing offices. The basement level will contain a new suite of laboratories for teaching clinical techniques to third-year students. Support offices and flexible instructional space for breakout groups will occupy the ground level, and more faculty offices will occupy the second floor. Construction began in July, and the building is slated to open in August 2012. 

The bottom line 

With the completion of the Instructional Addition, VMRCVM anticipates taking in 20 to 25 more students than it does now—up to 120 students in each class—starting in fall 2012. The college will not target applicants interested in, say, large animal medicine or public health, but Dr. Schurig said the college should have a proportional increase of students in those tracks.
The college anticipates bringing in approximately $3.2 million more over four years' time with the additional seats. Part of that will pay for some of the new buildings—at least the parts that deal with instruction—and the additional funds will be used for remodeling older instructional areas of the college, purchasing equipment, and hiring more faculty to serve the larger student body.

"While efforts aren't specifically tied to increas(ing) numbers, we have dramatically increased outreach in those areas," he said.

The additional students will come from out of state, because Virginia and Maryland legislators would need to approve funding for any increase in the number of in-state students, "which we think will come, but with the economic situation now, it's not ideal to ask for state support," Dr. Schurig said.

Dr. Schurig expects in the near future that Virginia will add more in-state positions and that potentially Maryland will. But, he points out, the expanding class sizes should cause tuition to rise less than it has in recent years.

The college anticipates bringing in approximately $3.2 million more over four years' time with the additional seats. Part of that will pay for some of the new buildings—at least the parts that deal with instruction—and the additional funds will be used for remodeling older instructional areas of the college, purchasing equipment, and hiring more faculty to serve the larger student body.

"By (2016), costs to educate students may have increased again and states may have cut their budgets again. This increase also allows us to weather the storms," Dr. Schurig said.  

Sharing costs and opportunity

The final building envisioned as part of the college's major capital development initiative is the $93.9 million Translational Medicine Building. This complex will include a 20,000-square-foot addition to the VTH on the first floor. The expansion of the VTH will help alleviate general space shortages, provide room to train an enlarged fourth-year class, and expand the college's clinical services to the general public. The new building will include basic and clinical research laboratories on the second and third floors, to be shared with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Science at Virginia Tech. It will be a large addition, adding close to 100,000 square feet in all to the campus.

 

"The building as a whole will be collaborative and transdisciplinary. One floor will have clinicians treating animals, and above them will be researchers looking at patient treatments—information will be flowing from one floor to the next," Dr. Schurig said.

The Translational Medicine Building is on the university's capital outlay plan for the 2010-2012 biennium, but it won't be another three to four years before construction starts on that building, Dr. Schurig said. The $93.9 million cost of the complex is estimated to be split between $62.6 million in state funding and $31.3 million raised by development.

"At some point, we expect the university to do the legwork to get funding from the state. And, obviously, we need to do private fundraising," Dr. Schurig said. "The good thing is the three colleges are involved in raising the money, which gives us a much better possibility of getting to an appropriate number in a reasonable amount of time."

He estimates that together, the three colleges have so far raised $4 million, "which isn't much, but we have yet to get the campaign into high gear." Those efforts should start in spring 2012, once the initial architectural study of the Translational Medicine Building is ready.

As the three new buildings go up, the college has also undertaken remodeling projects on its existing structures. The laboratories will be remodeled to be modernized and enlarged, the library is being redone and studying space is being added, and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital will see changes, including a community practice area that's already been created and is up-and-running.