VCU hires Md. firm to de­velop, man­age in­fra­struc­ture plan

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - METRO2 - BY JUSTINMATTINGLY jmat­tingly@times­dis­patch.com (804) 604-6012

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.

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