Significant pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements on West Virginia University’s Evansdale Campus, including new traffic lights and crosswalks, were approved Friday (Feb. 21) by the University’s Board of Governors. The Board also approved renovations to the existing law school building. Both projects are being funded primarily through existing bond proceeds.
One of the major upgrades in the $8.6 million Evansdale infrastructure improvement project will be the realignment (to the north) of the existing Evansdale Drive with Monongahela Boulevard and an upgraded four-way traffic light at that intersection to accommodate a new two-way southern access road from the WVU Coliseum parking lot.
A new pedestrian crosswalk and signal will also be installed there to further improve pedestrian and vehicular safety.
Additionally, a three-way traffic light will be installed at the intersection of Patteson Drive and the current Fine Arts Drive to allow vehicles to turn left onto Patteson, which is currently prohibited. A new pedestrian signal and crosswalk will also be created at this location. An enhancement grant from the Department of Highways will help fund these two roadway/intersection projects.
The redevelopment taking place on the Evansdale Campus also calls for additional parking spaces at the College of Creative Arts, Student Recreation Center, Communications Building and the new Evansdale Crossing facility.
The Crossing is a public-private mixed use facility that will feature food options, a bookstore, student services and academic space in addition to a connection to the Engineering PRT station on approximately 3.7 acres of existing University land. It will also connect the upper and lower parts of the Evansdale Campus for pedestrians.
The project, estimated at $25 million for the design, development and construction (no state or tuition funds), was discussed in detail at Wednesday’s facilities and revitalization committee meeting and dovetails with BOG approval in June 2011 of the Evansdale Campus Redevelopment Plan. If the project proceeds as planned, pending further reviews, the site development on the project will begin in late March. It is expected to open in Fall 2015.
Fresh Capital, an Alabama limited liability corporation, is the developer; March-Westin the construction firm.
Improved walking paths, sidewalks, lighting, signage and green space are also planned for the Evansdale Campus revitalization project.
The College of Law has not undergone significant upgrades since it was built in 1974, and the $14.6 million in improvements to this facility will include renovations to the Law Library, administrative suites and continuing legal education space, along with abatement work and modifications to the roadway entrance.
“As our new Student Health, College of Physical Activity and Sports Science, Art Museum and Agricultural Sciences buildings take shape, these additional improvements will greatly enhance our Evansdale Campus,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese. “Some will be completed this fall; others by fall of 2015, contributing greatly to the future success of this university.”
The Board also learned that the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism will soon be known as the Reed College of Media. The name change for the 75-year-old school founded in 1939 by Perley Isaac Reed, a professor and visionary, becomes official July 1. (See related story).
Dean Maryanne Reed said the change will better represent the diversity of the College’s academic programs and its focus on preparing students for the changing media environment,
In recent years, she noted, the school has implemented several significant changes to its academic programs, which include launching a new Strategic Communications major; developing new courses in blogging, interactive journalism and content curation and new minors in areas such as strategic social media and interactive media design; creating the nation’s first online master’s degree program in Integrated Marketing Communications; and launching a new Innovator-in-Residence program to bring to campus high-level media professionals to develop innovative projects and curricula.
At the WVU Institute of Technology, a name change is also planned. The Department of Sports Studies is the new name for the Department of Physical Education to better reflect that unit’s evolution in adding new programs in athletic coaching education and sport management.
The Board also committed to building in time to meet with the Higher Learning Commission during the April 7-9 accreditation visit to campus.
President Gordon Gee, attending his first Board meeting as president, reaffirmed to the Board why he agreed to return to West Virginia.
“I cherish the humility and the pride West Virginians have,” Gee said.
Rick Kraich, vice president for investments at the WVU Foundation, reported that Foundation-managed investment assets totaled $1.2 billion as of Dec. 31, including the long-term investment pool which saw a return of 15.2 percent for the calendar year 2013. The value of the long-term investment pool stood at $498 million as of December, he added. The Foundation acts as an investment agent for WVU and WVU Hospitals.
Student Government Association President Ryan Campione and other SGA members presented an annual update, noting the addition of Student Speak Ups and live streams of meetings; increased community service and tutoring services; development of a new basketball ticketing policy; support for a new safety app for campus (coming soon); innovative diversity initiatives; and so much more.
Despite these successes, however, students in general remain concerned about campus transportation and city traffic, limited parking for students and rising tuition and fee costs. They asked the Board to rely more on student input when making decisions that impact these areas.
Campione noted that the new Evansdale Connector building and Evansdale Campus improvements will help resolve some of the transportation concerns.
The Board adopted a resolution honoring the late Charles M. Vest, a treasured BOG member and esteemed WVU graduate, as a Board of Governors Member Emeritus.
Dr. Vest lost his battle with cancer in December.
A Morgantown native and WVU engineering graduate, he earned a doctorate from the University of Michigan where he then taught and served as provost for 23 years before being named the 15th president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon his retirement he was named President Emeritus; his career culminated in his appointment as president of the National Academy of Engineering.
Vest’s replacement on the Board, J. Thomas Jones, retired West Virginia United Health System CEO, was sworn in by phone earlier in the week and attended his first meeting by phone.
At Friday’s meeting, the Board also approved:
- A new master of science in energy systems engineering to provide specially-trained professionals in energy systems and energy supply-chain management to fill the growing needs of governmental agencies and industrial companies in West Virginia, the region and world
- A notice to amend policy 44 regarding sexual misconduct to broaden it to cover additional types of discrimination, harassment and other behavior that is prohibited on campus; it will be posted for public comment
- A notice to amend policy 49 regarding employment of minors to more broadly address issues related to children on campus; this follows a public comment period
- Per the multimedia rights agreement, $2.5 million from IMG to Athletics to cover consulting, design and purchasing costs for additional branding and advertising opportunities at the Coliseum and Stadium. (See related story.)
- A Title VI program update for the Personal Rapid Transit system.
BOG Chair James W. Dailey II updated the Board on the presidential search saying the committee has received 31 nominations and/or applications for potential candidates. Those names will be turned over to a search firm, once selected.
The next meeting of the Board was set for April 4 in Morgantown.
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