Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle met with members of the university’s Administrative and Professional (AP) Faculty Senate Wednesday in the Hurlburt Student Center for an update on campus building projects, the university’s budget and issues like parking and employee work-life balance.
After thanking the gathering for the invitation, Kyle provided the nearly 40 people in attendance a verbal tour of campus with insights into the ongoing building and renovation projects.
"You come across that hill and you still lose your breath looking at that gorgeous COBE Building, and then if your eyes go over top the building, you see the largest crane I think I've ever seen in my life," she said to laughter from the crowd while referring to the ongoing construction of the new Center for the Sciences. "If that crane doesn't tell people we're under construction, I don't know what does."
Kyle then talked about construction progress on the new Student Fitness and Wellness Center. She noted the 110,000 square-foot, $32.5 million facility is currently scheduled to open before students return for the fall 2014 semester and will include an indoor sloped running track, three indoor basketball courts, a multi-activity court, racquetball courts, free weights, exercise equipment, exercise rooms and class rooms.
The president also detailed the ongoing construction for the new Center for the Sciences. The 114,000-square feet, $49.5 million center, is now set to open in Spring 2015 and will include a forensic sciences research lab, nine science-specific research labs, a vivarium, space for the Museum of the Earth Sciences and the RU Planetarium, as well as office space for faculty and staff.
The president then briefed the AP Senate on the proposed College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Building, which, if approved by the Commonwealth, will be located between McConnell Library and Muse Hall. She said the university is working through the requisite approval process with the goal of beginning construction in 2014.
"It would be the largest academic building on our campus," she said and noted that the building is being designed to fit in and not "overpower" the adjacent buildings. The building will rise to about the same height as McConnell Library and cascade down to Main Street. Kyle said it, like all of the new buildings, will have a welcoming "front door" facing the Radford community, in addition to the main entrance on the university's quad, and feature RU’s distinctive Georgian architecture facing the campus side.
To close her verbal tour, the president provided an update of residence hall renovations, noting that the next wave of student living improvements will include Pocahontas, Bolling and Draper Halls.
"The campus is evolving and changing, and we're excited about it," she said. "We're finally providing the appropriate academic space that we desperately need. And we will have our students housed in residence halls that provide the amenities that today’s students and their families expect."
President Kyle then turned the focus of her remarks to the university's budget and funding from the state, saying Virginia has set new standards for higher education funding based upon increases in student enrollment, retention and graduation rates.
She noted the Commonwealth's focus on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) programs, plus business, in its higher education institutions. "They (our leaders in state government) want to see that not only are we developing programs in those areas, but they also want to see that we’re graduating more students with those degrees," Kyle explained.