FORT LEE -- The official opening of the Army Logistics University today marks the beginning of an influx of military and civilian students and personnel at Fort Lee.

Nearly 200 students are arriving at the Prince George County army base through next month to take courses at the university.

Classes will begin in August, university officials said.

The students, from Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground, are the first wave of military and civilian populations moving to Fort Lee as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission plan.

They will join students transferring from the Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, for a total of about 900 students at the newly built university campus in the fall.

The university is consolidating more than 200 courses offered at various installations. By 2011, it will provide training and education to a daily average of more than 2,300 U.S. military and civilian students and international officers. About 31,000 students annually will take resident courses through the university.

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Today's ribbon cutting is the second major grand opening of a BRAC building at Fort Lee.

In January, the base unveiled the $49 million Sustainment Center of Excellence, the fort's new headquarters building, which combined with the logistics university will make Fort Lee the Army's premier logistics base.

Albert Cruz, Fort Lee's BRAC construction office project manager, said the university's opening ceremony represents a significant step forward in the base realignment process at Fort Lee.

The federal government is spending $1.2 billion on construction at Fort Lee. Military students and other military personnel and families from installations in Texas, Maryland, Alabama and Virginia are moving to the Prince George installation.

The expansion will mean nearly 15,000 new residents in the Tri-Cities region by 2011, according to estimates.

The base's total daily supported population -- which includes military students; permanent troops and their families; civilian employees and their families; and contractor employees and their families -- is projected to increase from last year's estimated 31,545 to about 46,763 in 2011.

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The Army Logistics University houses three military colleges and an academy: the Logistics Non Commissioned Officer Academy; the Army Logistics Management College; and the Logistics Leadership College -- all three already at Fort Lee -- and the newly created Technical Logistics College.

The university also will continue and strengthen partnerships with privateand public-sector logistics organizations, including academic institutions such as the Florida Institute of Technology and Virginia State University.

The Army's goal ultimately is to turn the school into a degree-granting institution, said Col. Shelley Richardson, the university's president, who until recently served as commandant of the Army Logistics Management College.

The transition from the Army Logistics Management College to the Army Logistics University at Fort Lee will mean a change of an average daily student population of 350 to 2,300, Richardson said. The number of faculty and staff also will grow from 172 to nearly 500, Richardson said.

The university campus includes a new, four-story educational building with 207 classrooms; a logistics research library that will be open to the general public; a simulation training center; and some eateries, among other onsite resources and centers.

Construction of the $110 million university campus was completed in April. Since then, the building has been furnished fully and is ready to operate, Army officials said.

The next surge of students at the university will be in July and August 2010, when the rest of the courses from Aberdeen Proving Ground and the courses from the Transportation School at Fort Eustis in Newport News move to Fort Lee.

The last group of courses will move during fiscal 2011 from Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.

This article was originally published on July 2, 2009 in the Richmond Times Dispatch. Reprint permission granted by the publisher.