Breaking ground on a new facility usually involves a golden shovel and a lot of dirt.

But on Thursday, Feb. 4, West Virginia University will mark the renovation of White Hall and the building of the Basketball Practice Facility with a different kind of affair, one that celebrates the continued momentum and national prominence of two of the University’s premier programs and virtually breaks ground with a little help from a robot named Marvin.

The event, which will be hosted by WVU President James P. Clements, begins at 10:30 a.m. in Ruby Grand Hall at the Erickson Alumni Center.

Provost Michele Wheatly, Physics Department Chair Earl Scime, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bob Huggins and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Carey will talk about the recent, and renowned, success of their programs and how these two world-class facilities will help to continue that momentum.

White Hall, on the University’s downtown campus, will undergo a $30 million-plus transformation from a 1950s-era classroom building into a physics wonderland, complete with a rooftop planetarium, sophisticated research space and teaching labs, two 175-seat high-tech classrooms and a generous amount of administrative office space.

The Basketball Practice Facility, on the Evansdale campus, will feature two separate gym areas for the men’s and women’s teams, a weight training center, meeting space for each program, an athletic training room and a Basketball Hall of Traditions.

Both facilities are expected to open in 2011.

The nearly $19 million basketball practice facility was made possible with help from more than 40 private donors, several of whom Clements will recognize at the event.

Also on hand will be award-winning physics professors, many physics students, a high-school student who helped to discover a new pulsar, athletic director Ed Pastilong and several members of the men’s and women’s basketball team, including Joe Mazulla and Liz Repella.

Governor Joe Manchin is also expected to mark the occasion with a video message.

The event will be Web cast live at



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