Burke Olsen · March 6, 2008
Officials from Southern Virginia University today met with the Buena Vista City Council to discuss the University’s tentative plans for increasing enrollment and adding and renovating buildings to better meet the needs of up to 1,000 students.
“I believe that the economic fortune of Buena Vista is very closely tied to the continued growth of Southern Virginia University and the continued investment that comes to the city as a result of that,” said Tim Reamer, the city’s director of economic development. Though there are commercial and industrial players that are also important, there is no doubt that SVU is one of the major components, he said.
The master campus plan presented to the City Council is a look at what the University might do over the next 10 years. It presents three phases of possible renovations and new construction.
“This master plan paints a broad picture of some things we might do as we seek to beautify the campus and seek to accommodate 1,000 students, up from the 700 we had on campus during the fall of 2007,” said Rodney K. Smith, president of Southern Virginia. “We hope eventually to add some new buildings like a new library and performing arts center.”
From historic Main, Robey, Durham and Craton halls to the Von Cannon Library and Knight Sports Arena, Southern Virginia’s campus is comprised of 10 major buildings and a range of smaller facilities, including several homes used for student housing or offices. This year construction on a new 210-bed residence hall will be completed, as will a renovation of the Student Center. Main Hall will receive an air-conditioning system for the first time later this year.
Part of the plan includes provisions for developing some new athletic practice fields on land already owned by the University on Dinky Hill. The plan does not call for Southern Virginia to purchase any additional land at this time, but it does allow for that possibility should there be sufficient academic or athletic need and should land adjacent to campus be available at the right price.
“All the plans for new buildings and further renovations are tentative and largely based on our ability to raise sufficient funds,” President Smith said. “We will not see a slew of buildings pop up overnight, but as the University continues to grow we hope to make improvements along the way.”
A study completed last year by students and faculty members at Southern Virginia showed that the total economic impact of the University on the city of Buena Vista and the surrounding area is more than $17 million per year. That figure combines the impact of things like payroll and benefits paid, water and sewer expenses, patronage of local businesses and revenue generated for local schools.
In addition to the projects the University is undertaking, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently constructing a new building adjacent to campus to serve as a meetinghouse for congregations comprised of Southern Virginia students who belong to the Church and also as a classroom facility for weekday religious classes that focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the scriptures.