GW delays Marvin Center renovation

Marvin Center renovations will be delayed six months or more after administrators made changes to development plans, Marvin Center Governing Board Chair Mike Petron said.

Petron attributed the delay to changes made by Mike Gargano, assistant vice president for Student and Academic and Support Services.

“What happened was Mike Gargano was not happy with the plans for the ground floor and neither was I,” he said. “Changes made by him were, I admit, for the better, but he made changes at a great expense.”

“There’s no question that it’s going to be behind a little bit,” Gargano said.

Gargano did not give specific estimates about the length of time necessary to complete renovations. He said the project definitely will continue despite the delays.

“It only means that the actual breaking down of the walls has been put on hold,” he said.

Petron said construction already should be underway.

“There’s always planning,” he said. “But we’ve been planning for eight years. It’s a big pain. There are still a lot of things in regard to planning that need to be done.”

Gargano said concerns about delays are minor issues.

“Mike Petron has not been in the dark,” he said. “He has been kept abreast of the entire situation.

“In reality, why (renovations) were temporarily timed-out was because we wanted a larger number of students to be able to put their fingers on it. To me, it was well worth it to give students a timeout,” he said.

Petron said he believes students are concerned most about the financial repercussions of the delay.

“The University is losing money by delaying construction so much. I know they’re over budget,” Petron said. “We pay to run the building separate of tuition.”

GW Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz and Associate Vice President for Business Affairs Al Ingle were unavailable for comment regarding the project’s financial status.

“When administration finally listened to the students, it was so late in the process of renovation and reconstruction,” Petron said.

Gargano stressed the importance of student input in designing the Marvin Center.

“There’s a lot of people who didn’t have the right background information,” he said, referring to student groups that have complained about the renovation process.

“Students helped to design, through their input, a more functional Marvin Center,” he said.

For example, some groups contributed to the design of the student enterprise center, a section of the ground floor where students will be able to set up their own businesses.

Petron described a conflict that has arisen between the administration and several student groups that have lobbied for more space in the Marvin Center. Petron said those groups believe the University wants to establish the Marvin Center as a conference center.

“The goal of the Marvin Center should be to make it a more student-oriented center,” Petron said. “I would hope (the Marvin Center) becomes a student union.”

“There’s a great need for a conference center,” Gargano said, referring to the meeting space that will be located on the third floor. “It will enhance student life.”

Gargano said the Marvin Center is not limited to student use.

“The Marvin Center, we have to remember, is a facility that services the entire University community. That’s its intended purpose and it always has been,” he said. “The community includes students, faculty, staff, administration and the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.”

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