I would like to welcome President Ryan, Rector Clement, First Lady Youngkin, and, of course, our esteemed guest and principal donors, Chris and Carrie Shumway. I also would like to welcome members of the University Board of Visitors and the Commerce School board members, student leaders, staff, and faculty. Each of you has played a pivotal role in getting us to this point. And for that, we will be forever grateful.
The Commerce School was not part of Jefferson’s bold experiment to establish a University designed to advance human knowledge, educate leaders, and cultivate an informed citizenry. Even though we were not part of the original disciplines situated here on central Grounds, today, the Commerce School stands proudly on the south end of the Lawn, embodying every aspect of Jefferson’s experiment, which is now a way of life for us.
The story of Shumway Hall is a story about the Commerce School having a need, and Chris and Carrie Shumway having a collaborative vision, a vision for a highly modern space that is completely centered on the student experience, but also a space that enables the University to transform the south entrance to the Lawn. Here, we will create and disseminate knowledge in partnership with schools and colleagues from across Grounds.
As business and society evolve, institutions of higher learning must transform our content, our delivery modalities, and our pedagogical methods to meet, match, and extend beyond the expectations and needs of our students and the marketplace. With this project, we aim to develop learning spaces that exceed where we are today. Every classroom is designed from the ground up to optimize the experience of both local and remote participants. Whether it’s a CEO leading a discussion from Singapore, a student zooming in remotely from New York because they have an interview later that day, or an alumnus live streaming an installment of our speaker series, Shumway Hall is designed to increase access and support learners across the globe.
And in true UVA fashion, the look of the Commerce Complex will embrace and harmonize a marriage of old and new, honoring our past and our future. Rouss & Robertson Halls will continue to be home to admissions and scholarly activities for faculty and students alike. Cobb Hall, a historic building, will undergo a significant renovation while retaining its Jeffersonian exterior. And Shumway Hall will no doubt become what we think about as the energetic “living room” of the University.
In keeping with Chris and Carrie’s initial vision, we believe the Commerce Complex will become a critical focal point of interdisciplinary collaboration across Grounds to benefit students and faculty. As we take major strides to curate interdisciplinary academic offerings, venture into new research frontiers, and build bridges to external constituents within and beyond the Commonwealth, we will continue to advance Jefferson’s bold experiment.
Think about a fourth-year student who has just finished a data visualization class held in the tech-enabled classrooms on the innovation gallery. The student runs over to the Catalyst Cafe to pick up their lunch, which was preordered on the Commerce App, and grabs a cup of coffee, because it’s going to be one of those nights. They run into a favorite faculty member from their third-year Integrated Core block, and together they take the traveling staircase down into the two-story atrium, which is bathed in sunshine from the two stories of glass windows.
Just last week, this space held hundreds of people in an auditorium-style format for an alumni speaker panel on digital transformation. However, today, like a usual day, it is arranged with comfortable chairs and modern workspaces. While it’s all abuzz with activity, our student spies some friends from college and joins them to rehearse their pitch for a new enterprise and, of course, make plans for that evening.
Fast-forward 20 years, when this former student is now an alumnus, and they return here to Grounds with their teenagers, as hopeful UVA parents. They will remember many things about their UVA experience, including classroom learnings, late nights, and big breakthroughs, and the natural maturation process that occurs here on Grounds.
The new spaces in Shumway Hall will become part of the transformational experience of the University of Virginia, as new generations of alumni, parents, and students walk its halls, creating memories that cannot be imagined, but only lived.