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UMW gives update on Dahlgren research, education center

The King George Planning Commission last week received an overview on a postgraduate educational entity going forward in the Dahlgren area.
The development of the Dahlgren Education and Research Center project is under the direction of Richard Hurley, University of Mary Washington executive vice president, who provided a brief presentation at the July 14 meeting of the Planning Commission and distributed copies of a slide presentation.  
Hurley was at the meeting by invitation, not for any county land use approvals, which are not needed for the state project.
The primary purpose of the center is to provide partner schools with classrooms, computer labs, video teleconferencing capabilities, and office space to offer graduate and undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degree programs designed to enhance the Naval Support Activity South Potomac workforce capabilities.
The center is targeted to open in fall 2011.

UMW’s role and responsibilities include facility construction, property management and rental agent. Its academic offerings will be high-quality programs conducted in response to strategically identified needs. Non-credit programs and services will also offered in response to clearly identified needs and requirements.
In addition to UMW, Hurley said educational partners identified for participation are Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University and the Naval Postgraduate School.
Hurley said Rappahannock Community College and Germanna Community College will also participate.
“Community colleges can start people off on their first two years for some degrees, with universities finishing them off,” he said.
In 2006, the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council (MAC) proposed construction of Dahlgren Research and Education Institute. He added that the expert on the background of the project is Joe Grzeika, Chairman of the King George Board of Supervisors, who has been involved in the project’s development since its inception.
“The Dahlgren Education and Research project has been pursued to address one of the findings related to the last Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2005,” Grzeika said. “The BRAC identified as a concern the ability of the base at Dahlgren to provide the necessary post-graduate education for their work force focusing on the scientists and engineers. This perceived weakness was one of the first issues MAC took on shortly after it was formed.”
Grzeika added that former state Senator John Chichester was involved in the early concept and helped the idea become reality.
Chichester is credited with positive action by the Virginia General Assembly in March 2007 to provide $2 million toward the project to purchase 26.8 acres on the west side of US 301 in Dahlgren. An additional $22 million for construction was approved in 2008.
“The project is now real with construction to commence in the first part of calendar year 2010,” Grzeika said. “This is an exciting opportunity to not only address the workforce development, but also to look at how it can strengthen and expand the economic development of the region. I believe we need to now turn our focus to the planning and vision for the future with this facility as a centerpiece.”
Hurley said the initial construction will be a 40,000 square foot building. The concept site plan provides space for a second building of similar size to be added to the complex.
In addition to large and small classrooms, labs and faculty offices, the two-story building also will have a large general purpose room that Hurley said can also be used by the community and general public for meetings, get-togethers, career fairs and social functions, including receptions for weddings and other occasions.
The building construction will be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) with grass growing on the roof and geothermal heating and cooling. LEED is part of an eco-friendly building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council which provides standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

By Phyllis Cook,  Staff Reporter

 

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