Manassas Journal Messenger | Colleges add programs, buildings, residence halls

New buildings and programs at institutions in Virginia continue to ensure the commonwealth’s reputation as a leader in higher education. Some colleges have introduced new academic programs that reflect society’s fascination with going high and higher tech.

New facilities offer students and faculty the opportunity to study, live and relax with the latest innovation.

The following list of school “notes” has been compiled from information that each college sent to The Times-Dispatch.

Interesting info

Students at Hollins University outside Roanoke are spearheading the creation of a community garden on campus to underscore the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The project’s goal is to ensure that more of the food consumed at Hollins is grown at Hollins.

“People are excited about sustainability and the talk of ‘greenness’ on campus, and if they realize, ‘Oh wow, this was grown on Hollins’ campus’, then it gets our heads thinking and mouths talking,” said senior Angie Smith, who is leading the initiative.

. . .

Averett University recently offered students the chance to enjoy a lunch made entirely of foods grown within 150-mile radius of its Danville Campus. The “Eat Local Challenge” sponsored by the University’s food service provider, Bon Appetit, featured beef from Caswell County, N.C., and locally grown squash, eggplant, turnip greens and potatoes.

“Although the “Eat Local Challenge” was a special event, we regularly purchase 25 percent of our produce locally,” said Ted Canto, Averett dining hall manager.

“The food here is terrific,” said Chrysa Meaney a freshman from Wasilla, Alaska. “I play soccer so it’s good to have fresh vegetables. I think it’s also good that they buy local crops. You know you’re getting to eat fresh food.”

. . .

At American University in Washington, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has designated AU a 2006 Honor Institution.

The award recognizes AU’s “active encouragement of young people to pursue careers in public service” and its “sustained success in helping its students win Truman Scholarships.” AU has had 11 Truman scholars.

. . .

Longwood University physics majors who constructed a Hovercraft for their independent study project debuted the vehicle on campus during the spring semester. The Hovercraft, a vehicle used in low-level flight over land or water, was constructed entirely by eight physics students over the course of three semesters.

The Longwood model features the Rotunda and new Lancer logos and is powered by two gasoline engines a lift engine and a thrust engine. The vehicle, five feet wide and eleven feet long, hovers approximately four inches above the ground and is steered with rudders that work with the thrust motor.

“The goal of the project was to give the students some hands-on experience,” said Dr. Michelle Parry, associate professor of physics, who supervised the independent research project.

. . .

The physics department at Virginia State University in Petersburg has been awarded a $335,542 U.S. Department of Defense research grant through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The award includes $299,778 over a three-year period, plus $35,764 for equipment.

The research will focus on a study of nanocrystalline iron-cobalt alloys and will shed light on the basic properties of magnetic materials. Studying these materials will enable the AFOSR to develop future generations of high-performance military aircraft.

. . .

Sweet Briar College’s swim team posted the highest team GPA across all three divisions of the NCAA, and had a successful season in the water as well, posting a 7-4 record in a very competitive athletic conference.

SBC’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team traveled to the National Championship where it earned a third-place finish, just 5 five points behind the national champion.

. . .

Several University of Mary Washington faculty members received international honors in 2006. Claudia Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Late Wife, her third book of poetry.

In addition, three University of Mary Washington faculty members were named Fulbright Scholars. Suzanne C. deJanasz, associate professor of leadership and management, will spend five months as a lecturer in Poland at Warsaw University’s School of Management during the spring of 2007.

Stephen J. Farnsworth, associate professor of political science, is currently serving as Fulbright Research Chair at McGill University in Montreal for the entire 2006-07 academic year. Christopher Kilmartin, professor of psychology, will teach in Austria during the spring of 2007 as a Fulbright-University of Klagenfurt Distinguished Chair in Gender Studies.

New Programs

Randolph-Macon College students have the opportunity to participate in the First Year Experience (FYE) program, an innovative academic initiative designed to immediately immerse first-year students in college life, as well as set students on the path to integrating knowledge acquired in various disciplines.

The FYE is made up of yearlong courses team-taught by two professors, each specializing in different disciplines. During one of this year’s FYE courses, Psychology Professor Susan Parker and Spanish Professor Maria-Jose Bordera will come together to teach Far From Home: Immigrant Children and Families in the U.S.

Students will explore the social, cultural and psychological implications of immigration on children and families, including issues of identity, gender, economics, education and social welfare.

. . .

Virginia Commonwealth University’s emerging leaders program, which began as a pilot program this fall, identifies, recruits and supports the development and engagement of emerging student leaders at the Richmond school.

The program consists of 120 freshmen from Virginia in organized leadership development programs and activities. In addition, 40 second-year students will serve in mentorship roles. Participants receive scholarships of $1,000 per semester.

. . .

Several new programs have been developed at Hampton University in Hampton, including a forensics chemistry concentration and a pre-law program.

HU students will now be able to tell if television shows like “CSI” are fact or Hollywood under the Department of Chemistry’s new forensic chemistry concentration. In addition to the pre-designated chemistry curriculum and an internship during the sophomore year, HU students also will have the opportunity to take a class and perform lab work in forensic chemistry, physical methods in forensic chemistry and micro techniques.

. . .

This fall, 23 Eastern Mennonite University students are studying in Switzerland and Italy. They are exploring language, art and current events in the European Union, as well as historical events related to the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance.

EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding is known internationally. More than 1,300 students from some 50 countries have studied at the center’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute in the past 10 years. Hundreds of others have earned masters degrees in conflict transformation.

. . .

James Madison University added a new undergraduate degree program in Earth Science, which prepares graduates to step into the classroom and teach the subject. The program is aimed, in part, at a statewide shortage of high school teachers of Earth Science.

New buildings

Emory & Henry finished work on two new residence halls, each with 22 rooms. The new houses, located a few blocks from the main campus, enhance the E&H academic village, where professors, students and administrators live, work and learn together. Eventually, the college plans to build four more residence houses of the same design in the Emory village.

. . .

Virginia Union University continues renovation of its historic Belgian Building. This year the middle portion of the building is being revamped in order to provide additional classroom and office space.

The Belgian Building, with its stone relics of the Belgian Congo on the walls, was built in 1939 for the New York World’s Fair and awarded to Virginia Union in 1941. Relocation to its current Lombardy Street location was completed in 1943.

Renovations to Barco-Stevens Hall, located on one end of the building, were recently completed. In addition, a new performing arts theatre was recently added to the other end of the building.

. . .

Radford University’s proposal for two Clinical Simulation Centers, one on the RU West Campus and one in the Roanoke Higher Education Center, was allocated more than $2 million in general funds from the General Assembly.

More recently, the project was nominated by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia for a 2006 Governor’s Technology Award in the collaboration and partnerships category. The centers will be used by students in the RU School of Nursing and by other nursing education programs and healthcare entities in Western Virginia.

. . .

James Madison University opened its new Physics and Chemistry building last year and this fall begins construction of a new science/technology-centered library to supplement the university’s flagship facility Carrier Library.

. . .

At the University of Richmond, construction of a new suite-style residence hall began this summer toward an August 2007 opening. Once the residence hall opens, the university will close and completely renovate one residence hall a year for the next several years.

Construction continues for the new $13 million Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, will contain a three-bay gymnasium, elevated track and up-to-date fitness equipment.

. . .

Community Outreach

Known for its commitment to community outreach, Lynchburg College is now offering a minor in civic engagement that will require a community-based research project for a local nonprofit organization as a senior capstone experience. All LC students are encouraged to participate in some volunteer service.

This fall, the college’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter is raising money to construct a Habitat house for two of the college’s own dining services employees. Students from Greek organizations are planning an October carnival to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to benefit children with life-threatening medical conditions.

. . .

At Marymount University, Volunteer Service Day introduced new students to volunteer opportunities. Ongoing programs include mentoring disadvantaged and at-risk children and youths, working with senior citizens, clean-up/repair projects, Alternative Spring Break; HalloweenFest for disadvantaged kids and Special Olympics Basketball Tournament on campus.

Each year, approximately 800 Marymount students donate over 8,000 hours of service to their community.

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