A Message from the President

Dear Friends:

The Board of Trustees formally approved the 2011 Campus Master Plan at its meeting on Thursday, October 6, also authorizing us to begin implementation. The University expects to file the Plan with the City of Richmond by month’s end, officially bringing the plan development process to a close. 

As you know, we began work on the plan in fall 2010.  Over the course of the past year, hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni, Trustees and Trustees Emeriti, friends, and neighbors have been involved in the effort to create this ambitious framework to guide campus development in the decade ahead. 

Plan Scope

This plan builds on a strong foundation.  There is widespread appreciation for the beauty of our campus and quality of our facilities. We very nearly have the ideal amount of space to support our people and programs, according to objective national benchmarks. The plan will sustain these strengths. 

The plan also envisions:

  • creating new, and enhancing existing, social and intellectual spaces for gathering and study outside of residences and classrooms;
  • leveraging one of our most underutilized resources—the southern portion of campus—to create an ideal upper-division community and new homes for “gateway” programs such as community engagement, continuing studies, admission and financial aid, and career services;
  • enhancing athletics and recreation space;
  • making our campus more welcoming, navigable, and sustainable by enhancing pedestrian and bicycle access and reconfiguring other elements of circulation, including establishing the River Road entrance as our most visible and accessible connection to the surrounding community.

Development envisioned in the plan will be undertaken in ways consistent with the University’s commitment to sustainability and will preserve the abundant green space that is a hallmark of our campus. 


With the elements and objectives of the plan established over the course of the past academic year, this summer, in consultation with the Campus Master Plan Committee and the Board of Trustees, we worked to prioritize the ambitious array of projects and to develop a financing plan to support implementation. In doing so, we were guided by the assumption that the implementation timeline should allow us to:

  • make progress across each component of the University’s work, embracing academic spaces, athletic facilities, and landscapes;
  • protect and enhance the quality of the residential experience, including that of junior and senior students, and enabling us to complete residence hall redevelopment without displacing students from campus;
  • strengthen our ability to recruit talented and diverse students to our academic community;
  • ensure a more defined and welcoming entrance to the University;
  • protect and enhance existing assets as well as create new ones;
  • ensure the affordability of projects, minimize the effects on the University’s operating budget, and protect our Aa1 bond ratings.

Phase 1 (see pp. 80 and 81) envisions alterations to Boatwright Library and renovations to Ryland Hall and the academic space in North Court. With significant investments in academic facilities having been made in recent years—including the construction of the Carole Weinstein International Center and Queally Hall and the renovation of the Law School this past summer—Phase 1 also seeks to ensure the quality of other facilities fundamental to our ability to attract and retain the best students, faculty, and staff and to offer an experience outside the classroom consistent with the University’s overall standard of excellence.  Work on the new Student Activities Building is under way, and the continuation of the residence hall redevelopment work begun some years ago is a crucial part of Phase 1.  There are also landscaping and wayfinding projects to enhance connectivity on campus and projects to ensure our stewardship of important campus resources, such as Cannon Chapel and the Robins Center.  Finally, Phase 1 anticipates a new building to house Admission and Financial Aid along with the employer relations work of our Career Development Center.  We believe the first phase of projects (to be undertaken from 2011 to 2016) will make a great impact in achieving institutional priorities, and we are confident of our ability to manage this significant series of projects logistically and financially. 

We have also given care to forecasting how we might realize all of the plan’s objectives over a 10-year period (see pp. 82 to 83).  Future projects will be considered closer to the end of Phase 1, at which time we will take stock of institutional priorities, financing opportunities, and other factors that inform implementation decisions.  The proposed sequence of either phase could shift based on a number of factors, including, for example, if gift support emerges to expedite a particular project.  It is therefore important that we recognize that the plan is a framework to evaluate priorities, develop financial plans, and achieve important goals for the University in a deliberate way for the coming decade—not necessarily a rigid timeline for construction of specific projects.  The University community will be kept informed as major projects are pursued.

A Shared Vision

The formulation of this plan has been a highly inclusive process to ensure that the plan reflects our best collective thinking and shared vision.  I am grateful for the leadership of the Campus Master Plan Committee and to the hundreds of you who participated in this process.  I hope you share my pride in the results of our work and my enthusiasm for the differences the plan will make at the University in the coming decade.  I look forward with you to realizing the shared aspirations of our community that this plan embodies. 

Best wishes,

Ed Ayers