BLACKSBURG, Va., March 31, 2009 – Virginia Tech will hold a brief ceremony to signify the re-opening of the west (short) wing of the second floor of Norris Hall on Friday, April 10 beginning at 2 p.m.
Brief remarks will be made by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger and Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee, as well as Ishwar Puri, professor and head of the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics in the College of Engineering, and Jerzy Nowak, founding director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, a university center affiliated with the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment.
Tours of the second floor will be held following the remarks beginning at approximately 2:30 p.m. The event is open to the public; parking is available in the Perry Street Lot off of Prices Fork Road.
“When we began considering what the future would hold for this section of Norris Hall, we wanted to, first and foremost, honor and respect the memories of those we lost and those who loved them, and honor and respect those who survived the tragedy,” said McNamee. “What has emerged, I hope, has done that, and will promote student-centered transformative learning, discovery, and engagement.”
The Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention will occupy the six new rooms and laboratories located on the west wing of the second floor. Those spaces are the Global Technology Center (a state of the art video teleconferencing center), meeting and administrative space for the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, a gathering space for student team projects, the IDEAS Undergraduate Learning Center (where engineering students can work with other students or teaching assistants to go over material covered in classes or labs), a biomechanics laboratory, and the Biomechanics Cluster Research Center.
“Through the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, we hope to develop transdisciplinary programs that target prevention of violence through research, education and engagement,” said Nowak. “Relocation to Norris Hall has a symbolic character to the families and friends of the victims, to the survivors, Virginia Tech, the Blacksburg community, and the world.”
“We look forward to opening of Global Technology Center,” added Nowak. “This facility, equipped with the latest in hardware and software, is designed to enhance collaboration and communication at a distance. It will serve both the center and Engineering Science and Mechanics, it will further expand the notion of community, foster development of transdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students, and facilitate transformative learning.”
“The complete reoccupation of Norris Hall will mark another important milestone on our road to recovery,” said Puri. “My colleagues and I will reenter the building with humility in our hearts and resolve in our minds. We will remember the fallen, some of who sacrificed themselves to protect others on April 16. We will rededicate ourselves to our mission as we work to mentor and provide the best human resources for our society in these challenging times.
“This project has also enriched all of us, since it has encouraged our community that was deeply struck with pain and shock to work together as one,” Puri added. “Together, we have recreated an afflicted space to make it once again suitable for teaching, research, and service. Thus, I hope that the impact of our activities in Norris Hall will fully honor the legacies of the fallen. We know that we have that special objective to remember as a guiding principle.”
In December 2007, Steger 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 on Norris Hall. The recommendation of the Norris Hall Task Force guided the renovation plan, resulting in the new configuration of space that will open April 10.
Renovation to the space began in the fall of 2008 and was completed in March 2009. Total cost to rehabilitate space in Norris Hall was approximately $1 million. Several individuals and building contractors donated goods and/or services to support the project.