VCU Announces $2 million gift for construction of education building at the VCU Rice Center

Inger Rice with students at the VCU Rice Center
Inger Rice with students at the VCU Rice Center

Virginia Commonwealth University announced today that Inger Rice has pledged $2 million for the construction of an education outreach building at the Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences.

The approximately 6,000 square-foot building will be used for hands-on environmental sciences education. Students from surrounding school districts as well as VCU students will be able to study and collect biological samples on site and then immediately study them in classrooms and laboratories in the new facility.

"Inger Rice continues to be a great friend to Virginia Commonwealth University. Her gift will enable us to construct a state-of-the-art educational facility that will allow generations of students to experience and learn from the natural beauty of the tidal James River," said VCU President Eugene P. Trani.

The VCU Rice Center was created from an ecology-rich, 343-acre parcel of land that Inger Rice donated to VCU in 2000. It is located on the north bank of the historic James River, southeast of Richmond in Charles City County. VCU Life Sciences uses the property for research, education and outreach activities, many of which focus on large rivers and their riparian landscapes.

"The education building is essential to help the Rice Center reach its full potential as an education and research facility," said Inger Rice. "The gift will be used to build the first phase of what I am sure will be an environmentally friendly complex that will make an important contribution to the knowledge base of the natural world around us and to the betterment of life for all Virginians.

"I am confident my late husband, Walter, would agree with that goal," she said. "It is our legacy to the future."

The education building is designed to be flexible in its uses. One section will be a multipurpose resource room for teachers, faculty and researchers for study, small lectures and meetings. Another section will serve as multipurpose space for classroom and laboratory use. A third section of the building will be an administration center.

The building will be LEED certified. LEED – the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System -- is the nationally accepted benchmark for optimal energy and environmental design and construction.

Construction is expected to begin this spring, with completion targeted for spring 2008. 

Over the past three years, the Rice Center has hosted more than 200 teachers for on-site training and more than 1,000 students in environmental outreach programs, all from the central Virginia region.  Additionally, more than a dozen VCU undergraduate and graduate classes use the site for study and research each year.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see