Board discusses Smith Center plans

The planned improvements to the Smith Center were at the center of discussion during the spring Board of Trustees meeting Friday in Duqu?s Hall.

The $43 million renovation to GW’s main athletic center – slated to begin in spring 2009 – will include new locker rooms and academic facilities; upgrades to seating, the swimming pool and the basketball court; and a major facelift of the building’s exterior. The budget for the project was approved by the board on Friday, as part of the capital budget.

“The Smith Center is in the heart of campus, and it is the site of many public events including basketball games, Freshman Convocation and Commencement ceremonies,” University President Steven Knapp said after the event. “It has fallen into disrepair over the years.”

More than half of the project will be funded by donations, which started with a $10 million gift from the Smith-Kogod foundation in February – the largest in University history. The school plans to raise another $15 million before beginning the project.

The work on the Smith Center will be conducted in four phases while the building remains in operation. Athletic teams will continue to compete during the renovations.

The board also released plans for a new building to house the School of Public Health and Health Services, which currently shares a building with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Architectural plans are already underway for the new building, which will replace the Warwick Building on Washington Circle. SPHHS Dean Ruth Katz said the University will allocate $3 million for a School of Public Health building.

The possibility of a student Metro pass, an initiative supported by the Student Association this year, was also discussed at the meeting.

“For a student interning on the Hill, it costs students $150 a semester,” said Michele Hagans, chair of the board committee on external affairs. “We do not want cost to be a deterrent to internship.”

The University is collaborating with other schools in the city on the student Metro pass and on the possibility of a shuttle system for airports, Hagans said. Former Student Association President Nicole Capp attended a Washington Metro Area Transit Advisory meeting three months ago to discuss this possibility.

During the meeting, Knapp also emphasized the necessity for environmentally friendly initiatives at GW.

Knapp said he hopes the Board of Trustees can “establish curricular models so we can become a national leader in sustainability” at their retreat on June 19.

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