New academic space planned for student-athletes

Paris Carter
Contributing Writer

On Aug. 25, VCU’s Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin announced plans for a new academic space to be built for all student-athletes. The announcements comes after student-athletes  posted  the highest Academic Progress Rate (982) in school history.

Prior to the recent purchase, the building belonged to the Commonwealth Cancer Institute, formerly a radiology clinic, which filed for bankruptcy nearly five years ago in November 2009. The property was bought for a total of $925,000 by the school’s Real Estate Foundation.

Among the features that have been released will be 24 different workstations all furnished with the latest edition of the iMac desktop computer. Along with the top-of-the-line technology, there will also be large team study halls which will be home to not only student-athletes, but also academic advisors and counselors. Additionally, a conference room has been designed specifically for the use of prospective student-athletes who come to visit the campus.

McLaughlin elaborated on what the new building means for the athletic program.

“This space allows us to address a need of the most important part of VCU Athletics, the student-athletes,” McLaughlin said. “Dedicating more space to our outstanding academic support program will help our student-athletes achieve at an even higher level academically.”

The projected 2,700 square-foot facility is conveniently located right across the street from both the Siegel Center and Ackell Residence Hall, which houses student-athletes.

VCU officials believe adding more space could potentially eliminate overcrowding in study areas, and in turn allow more individualized attention for each team and student-athlete. The ongoing Cabell library renovations are not expected to be complete until December 2015.

VCU officials have not announced how much the new project will cost or where the money will come from. When plans were previously announced for a new basketball facility, students wondered if their tuition rate would increase due in large to the expected $25 million dollar price tag. VCU received $14.5 million in private donations and reallocated student fees to cover the remaining cost.

Future construction plans for the new facility as well as potenial building designs have not been released to the public,

For the basketball facility, VCU contracted Barton Marlow Company and VMDO Arhitects and on June 2, construction started for the new men’s and women’s basketball practice facility. Neighboring it now, will be a brand new academic workspace that will be accessible to VCU’s 300 plus collegiate athletes across all 16 NCAA-affiliated sports.

The 2013-14 season saw 51 athletes make the Atlantic 10 honor roll. With a greater emphasis being placed on academics, VCU looks to continue breaking new ground in both athletics and in the classroom.

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