Fadel Allassan, News Editor
After reviewing a proposal that would freeze tuition rates for most students, the Board of Visitors last week approved a plan that will steer the university’s development for years to come.
On March 21, the board was presented with university officials’ recommendations for no tuition increases for most undergraduate students in the upcoming academic year — the first time tuitions would freeze for a number of years. Under the proposal, students at MCV would see tuition increases. The BOV will vote on tuition and fees at its May 10 meeting.
Karol Kain Gray, senior vice president and chief financial officer for VCU, said the school proposed a freeze due to “generous support” from the state. Gray credited a $6.8 million agreement between the university, Gov. Ralph Northam and the state legislature to offset tuition.
Then, in a unanimous vote the following day, the board approved the school’s first unified master plan — a comprehensive blueprint that will guide the university’s expansion. The plan has a number of objectives, including unifying the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, improving safety and accessibility and delineating the campus.
The ONE VCU Master Plan is the product of more than 176 interviews, presentations and meetings, according to a university news release. More than 1,500 people participated in the process.
The plan looks to make it clearer to people when they’ve entered campus by enhancing the “overall sense of place and identity.” It would have the Commons and Temple Building demolished and replaced by new spaces for “collaboration, events, passive recreation and circulation.”
A student gallery across from the Institute for Contemporary Arts is just one of the building projects named in the plan. Others include new student housing, with the Facilities and Financial Services at 700 W. Grace St. making way for a new living area.
On MCV, the plan would consolidate the outpatient clinics at VCU Health and more than triple the amount of parking spaces. It would enlarge the green space at East Cary and North 11th streets.
“Through a combination of targeted investments, renovations and enhancements, the master plan recommends exciting, innovative and collaborative new spaces that will continue to make VCU prominent nationally and connect us to each other and to the city of Richmond,” said Meredith Weiss, vice president for administration, in a news release.
The process began in September of 2017 when the university hired Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architecture firm to manage the process. The firm has developed master plans for large universities including Texas A&M, Wake Forest and Purdue. It also developed VCU Housing’s master plan and the renovation of Gladding Residence Center, which was finished this summer.