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Bond includes new Longwood academic building

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has introduced his proposed fiscal year 2017-18 budget that includes a $2.43 billion bond package to strengthen research and workforce development at four-year institutions —  including Longwood University.

According to Longwood spokesman Matt McWilliams, “there are two Longwood projects in the proposal — a new academic building and replacing the steam distribution system on Wheeler Mall.”

A press release from the governor’s office states that $849.6 million would be allocated for higher education projects at Virginia’s four-year institutions. The proposed projects support STEM-related fields through research support and increasing classroom capacity, the release notes.

The funding package is contingent upon General Assembly approval.

Justin Pope, who serves as chief of staff to Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV, said “the new academic building is one of several projects currently in Longwood’s planning and construction pipeline.”

He described the new academic space as being a 42,000-square-foot building that will be located behind French Hall and “provide a substantial portion of the additional academic space we will need in the years to come in a single cost-effective project.”

Pope said the building could contain an assortment of classrooms, collaborative learning spaces, student research/inquiry space, library outpost, a faculty development center and distance learning facilities in addition to space for student research and science, technology engineering, math and health programs.   

Pope said the amount of funds that could be allocated have not been determined.

He said replacing the steam distribution system on Wheeler Mall would include repairing and reconfiguring the underground steam distribution system. 

“A recent comprehensive study noted defects and deficiencies in the steam distribution system. The idea is that it would be far more cost-effective and efficient to address all problems in a single project rather than patch together piecemeal repairs,” he said.

McWilliams said the Virginia General Assembly — which will convene in January — has the ability to add or remove projects from the governor’s proposal in the upcoming session. “This is an early stage in the budgetary process. We’re pleased to see the Longwood projects included in the governor’s proposal and heartened that there is strong bipartisan support for Virginia’s public universities in Richmond. We certainly look forward to working with the administration and legislators over the course of the upcoming General Assembly session.”

The bond proposal is the largest research investment in the commonwealth’s history, according to the release.