The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Retraction: Seacobeck Correction

4 min read

Retraction: The Bullet incorrectly reported that the Board of Visitors had approved a demolition of Seacobeck Hall and that the University of Mary Washington is listed as an historic campus under the National Historic Register (NHR) in our print and online editions on Thursday, Jan. 27.  In fact, it was only the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors that met on Jan. 22, and UMW is continuing to reassess plans for Seacobeck and a new dining facility.  In addition, the school is merely eligible to be considered for the NHR, according to a UMW spokesperson.  We apologize for such substantial errors. Below is the corrected version of events.


Last Saturday, the Executive Committee of the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors  met to discuss issues that the university is currently facing, including the highly controversial Master Plan for renovations and changes to the campus.

The Committee heard from special guest, Kathleen Kilpatrick, director of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s department of historic resources, who the state assigned to look into and advise the University administration on how to proceed with the building plan.

Meantime, UMW is continuing to reassess plans for Seacobeck Hall and a new dining facility. According to President Rick Hurley, Seacobeck has been pulled out of the Master Plan so that it can be addressed separately.  Hurley said the Master Plan can be delayed, but a decision on Seacobeck Hall cannot.

“I have put plans in motion to have a representative body—that includes students, architects, historic preservation faculty, facilities representatives, and a representative from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources—thoroughly study all the issues and make recommendations that we can take to the Board of Visitors,” Hurley said.

Hurley also sent an email campus-wide yesterday to correct the Bullet’s inaccurate report about Seacobeck.

Since UMW is eligible to be listed as an historic campus under the National Historic Register, special care must go into any altering of buildings that may have irreplaceable historical value, said Kilpatrick at the meeting.

Kilpatrick insisted that all alternatives must be explored before a building is demolished.

However, she conceded that some buildings are in such bad condition that the university cannot reasonably be expected to sustain or adequately renovate them, suggesting that admirers of the buildings should “take some pictures and let it go.”

Kilpatrick went on to emphasize the importance of not simply replacing old with new but maintaining the integrity of the campus as a whole. Any new building should match the design of its predecessor but have a definitively modern element, Kilpatrick said.

She explained that it is important that a visitor be able to tell what is truly historic and what is new. “Our job is not to stand in the way of progress, but to help an institution preserve its history and identity and know what can go,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick remarked, “this plan [the UMW Master Plan] is one that didn’t consider preservation at all.”

President Rick Hurley admitted that while putting together the Master Plan, the administration did not, “give due value to historic preservation” and that “of all the institutions in Virginia, this one ought to consider [it], since we have a Historic Preservation undergraduate program.”

In response to these concerns, Hurley has hired a professional who is in the process of assessing the various buildings on campus and rating their historical importance.

A level one building, such as Monroe, is of great historical value and must be carefully renovated rather than demolished.
A lower-ranking building on the other hand, such as Alvey, could be demolished with little hesitation on the part of the administration.

Hurley also mentioned Jefferson, Alvey and Arrington as likely candidates for imminent demolition. He said that Jefferson’s claustrophobic halls and tight quarters put it in desperate need of change.

Alvey and Arrington, although new, and because they are not historic, are also being given construction priority to be turned into a single, more efficient building.

Following the meeting’s closed session, Hurley did let slip that they are working on some sort of surprise to be revealed to the student body later this spring.

The Board also addressed complaints from the faculty of the College of Business that there is disparity in regards to salaries within this department. Hurley has responded to these complaints by hiring a consultant to conduct a comprehensive study on faculty salaries.

With the results of this study, expected in late spring, Hurley hopes to create a faculty salary structure to resolve similar issues in the future.

However, he wanted it made clear to the faculty that, the study will not necessarily make nay more money available.

Hurley acknowledged that the faculty might be disgruntled to learn that he is spending even more money hiring a consultant instead of raising salaries, but he assured the Committee that he places great trust in the company to yield beneficial results.

In addition to evaluating salaries for the current faculty, the administration is recruiting for the growing College of Business. Hurley said that salaries will probably be higher for the new recruits than for the veteran faculty.

Another topic discussed at the meeting was fund-raising. For the 2010 calendar year, the university fund-raised over $2.7 million, which is more than was raised in 2009. Hurley will be spending eight days traveling in Florida in order to meet with alumni in the hopes of raising even more money for the university.

Subjects of interest on the agenda to be discussed at a later date include the drug policy, a potential new honors program and possibly a UMW stamp to come out in 2013.