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President Steger accepts recommendations of Norris Hall Task Force


   

Norris Hall Norris Hall

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 20, 2007 – Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger has accepted the recommendations put forth by a university task force regarding the future use of approximately 4,300 square feet of space on the second floor classroom wing of Norris Hall.

The Norris Hall Task Force recommends using the space to implement key elements of the proposal put forth by the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and allocate space for the creation of the new Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

In addition, space in Burruss Hall that will be vacated by Engineering Science and Mechanics in conjunction with their space utilization proposal in Norris Hall, will be converted into space for the new Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships, which was another proposal submitted to the task force. for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

“I deeply appreciate the very important and difficult work completed by task force members and input from the many people who shared their thoughts, dreams, and ideas with them,” said Steger. “The task force received several worthwhile proposals, all of which were sensitive to the memories of those who lost their lives on April 16 and would be beneficial to our community. I am extremely confident that the decision we announce today will help future generations of students more deeply understand the world we live in today.”

“This reutilization of space in Norris Hall will provide the university community with an opportunity to infuse new vitality into the building in a manner that promotes student-centered transformative learning, discovery, and engagement consistent with the university strategic plan,” said University Provost Mark McNamee, who chaired the Norris Hall Task Force. “We believe our recommendations honor and respect the memories of those we lost and those who loved them, and honor and respect those who survived the tragedy and who will help invent the future.”

Total cost to rehabilitate space in Norris Hall necessary to implement these recommendations is estimated at about $1 million. Planning and organizational work needed to actualize these proposals will begin immediately with renovation work to follow in early 2008.

“The proposal by Engineering Science and Mechanics to re-create community will consolidate the department which currently has offices in other campus buildings and restore vitality to the building in a way that will advance active-learning and e-learning,” said Ishwar Puri, professor and head of the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics. “Our proposal calls for the creation of conference and seminar space and for state-of-the-art communication technology space, which we will share with the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.”

The task force intends for the proposed Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention to become a world-class model combining rigorous research with hands-on engagement. The expectation is the center will possess a strong commitment to student-led projects.

Sue Ott Rowlands, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will lead the effort to develop a long term plan for the new center in coordination with the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment.

The Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships will receive space on the first floor of Burruss Hall once the Engineering Science and Mechanics proposal is implemented.

“The Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships is an important initiative that aligns effectively with the Engagement Scholarship domain of the strategic plan,” said McNamee. The task force fully supports the plan to consolidate such efforts in a central campus location, and we found an opportunity to make this happen.”

In August, President Steger asked McNamee to chair a 12 member ad hoc group comprised of students, faculty, and staff that would invite and develop recommendations for the future use of the space in Norris Hall affected by the April 16 tragedy. In October, the group received seven pre-proposals for use of the affected space, and identified three pre-proposals as most promising for further development. The task force completed their work on Dec. 7 when they submitted their final recommendation to President Steger.