VCU hires Md. firm to develop, manage infrastructure plan
Virginia Commonwealth University has hired a familiar architecture firm to coordinate its new facilities master plan.
Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based firm, will be paid about $1 million to develop and manage the university’s master planning process. The two worked together recently on a campus analysis, a student affairs master plan and the Gladding Residence Center, which is scheduled to open next summer.
The decision to hire the firm was made at Thursday’s board of visitors meeting and was unanimously approved by the board.
“The master plan will reinforce the concept of one VCU by providing a cohesive blueprint for the future development of the Monroe Park and MCV campuses,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a news release.
Ayers Saint Gross has helped develop master plans for Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and Ohio State University, among others. In a statement, the company said it’s excited to work with VCU and the university community.
The last updates to the university’s master site plan were in 2013. The new plan is expected to continue through 2018 and will start next month with public town halls.
Infrastructure and the university’s strategic plan, a strategy for the university from 2019 to 2025, were the focus of the meeting Thursday.
The 15-person board received a briefing on VCU’s ongoing strategic plan process, which is set to launch next fall.
Representatives from each of the five work groups leading the strategic plan effort gave broad descriptions of their groups’ work to date. Few specifics were given to the board.
The board’s next meeting is set for Dec. 8.
InRao’s report to the board, the eighth-year president discussed the possible end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more commonly known as DACA.
The federal program provides work permits and temporary protection from deportation for an estimated 800,000 immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.
Rao reiterated support for young immigrants at VCU, who reacted to the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the federal program with protests in Richmond.
According to state data, 61 students at VCU are DACA recipients, as of January.
When the initial announcement of the phasing out of the program came out last week, Rao quickly sent out a statement affirming the university’s commitment to protect affected students.
“We will continue to advocate for DACA students within the legal bounds that govern us as a public university,” he said both last week in his statement and to the board Thursday.
Rao said Thursday that the university is looking into fundraising efforts to help support such students, who aren’t eligible for the same scholarships as U.S. citizens. The idea was originally discussed at a 45-minute meeting he had last week with young immigrants studying at VCU.
He added that some of the students have met with VCU police to discuss their protections.