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USU Dedicates New Educational Facility to Fifth President

A group of people standing behind a ribbon to commemorate a new educational facility
By Sharon Holland

After months of construction, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest facility, Feb. 4, 2020.

The “Charles L. Rice Hall” was officially dedicated in honor of the university’s fifth president, who served from 2005-2016, and whose numerous contributions to the university include establishment of the USU Postgraduate Dental College, College of Allied Health Sciences, Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program, and reform of the School of Medicine curriculum, among many others.

The facility was designed and built by RRMM Architects and G-W Management Services through the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).

“We are here to dedicate this new facility, named for Dr. Charles Rice, our fifth president, who led a decade of transformation while at the helm of this university,” said current USU
president Dr. Richard Thomas in his opening remarks. “His impact is felt by everyone in this room, and by our alumni out in the field under whose leadership they were prepared to care for our service members, retirees, and their families, and our veterans who have all selflessly served our nation.

“Space is at a premium on our campus, and this state-of-the-art facility provides us with much-needed teaching, meeting, conference and event space to help us meet our very important educational mission,” Thomas continued.  “I would like to thank the many members of the USU, NAVFAC and Contractor teams who spent countless hours and faced a whole host of challenges to bring us this incredible space."

The exterior of a building labeled Charles L. Rice Hall
The new Charles L. Rice Hall is a 6,200 square feet state-of-the-art facility for teaching, meeting, conference,
and event space. The facility was named for USU President Emeritus Dr. Charles L. Rice, who was the
university's president from 2005-2016. (Photo by Matthew Stinson, NAVFAC Washington).

The Hall is a 6,200 square feet, state-of-the-art facility for academic discussion, ceremonies, lectures, conferences, small group discussion, large-scale tabletop exercises, and assembly. It will provide space for group interactivity and implementation of a dynamic and growing curriculum.

The space, constructed with energy conservation features, is designed to divide into three separate classroom/meeting spaces that will hold 288 students with seating for 600, and when fully open, the Hall will have space for 750.  Audiovisual system capabilities mimic space layout conditions:  when the partition walls are deployed, the system can support three separate spaces with three distinct needs. The audiovisual system works together to project the same information to all of the systems in the Hall when the partition walls are not in use. There are two projector screens in the front of the Hall and eight, 80-inch monitors configured so each section, when partitioned, will have two monitors mounted and two monitors on carts to support the university’s educational mission.  Mobile lecterns will be used to maintain space flexibility. The Hall also has recording capabilities to capture lectures/presentations.

A crowd watches a man at a podium speak, three men sit in chairs on stage.
Dr. Charles L. Rice, USU President Emeritus, addresses the standing-room-only crowd at the ribbon cutting/dedication
ceremony in his honor. (Photo by Matthew Stinson, NAVFAC Washington)

Navy Cmdr. Marc Bernath, NAVFAC Washington public works officer for the Public Works Department Bethesda, addressed the standing-room-only crowd on behalf of NAVFAC Washington.

“We worked hard together as a team, NAVFAC Washington, USU and [G-W Management Services] to deliver the project both on time and on budget,” Bernath said. “It was vitally important to our customer. Since it was important to them, it was important to us. We actually staffed up for the project and had a dedicated team of construction managers, as well as engineer technicians.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rice, his wife, Judy, members of the official party and the USU Board of Regents, USU Facilities staff, NAVFAC Washington and G-W Management representatives, and representatives from Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Jamie Raskin, took their places along the ribbon.  With giant scissors in hand, Rice made the ceremonial cut, officially signifying the opening of Charles L. Rice Hall.

“So many people have worked so hard to contribute to this. I have to confess this is the first day I have walked in here,” said Rice.  “I was a little skittish, but I am very grateful for all of the hard work that went into this. … I am deeply honored and thank President Thomas and the Board of Regents for this recognition."