Proposed NCSSM-Morganton campus design as of August 1, 2018


NCSSM-Morganton campus plan receives public-private funding boost

The first class of students to enroll at NCSSM-Morganton will be arriving on campus in three short years, and plans for their new home are taking shape thanks to increased construction funding from the NC General Assembly and a private fundraising campaign.

During the recent legislative short session, the state appropriated an additional $15 million to the construction of the Morganton campus in response to a request from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) for critical funding to augment initial project funding provided by the 2016 Connect NC bond. Following site selection in the summer of 2017, intensive planning during the remainder of that year and into 2018 yielded a campus master plan that identified the need for additional funding to construct a campus within the specific topography of the site comparable to NCSSM’s Durham campus and other top-quality schools. In addition to the state’s funding commitment, NCSSM is planning to raise $10 million from private sources for the project.

“We are incredibly grateful to the leadership and membership of the NC General Assembly for their strong support,” stated Chancellor Todd Roberts. “And we are also appreciative of the initial interest we’ve received from the philanthropic community.”

Preparations to meet the fundraising target have stimulated significant activity in the NCSSM-Morganton planning office. Kevin Baxter, director of western campus planning for NCSSM, announced the establishment of two temporary positions that will provide critical short-term leadership and support to generating investment in the construction of the new campus.

Lamar Smitherman, most recently of the Morganton News Herald, has been hired as outreach and industry relations associate for NCSSM-Morganton. Smitherman recently retired as publisher of the News Herald and McDowell News following four decades in the newspaper business. He is currently a member of the boards of the Blue Ridge Foundation and Burke Development Incorporated and also serves as a trustee at Western Piedmont Community College.

Margo Knight Metzger is an alumna of NCSSM and brings significant experience to the new role of strategic communications and initiatives associate for NCSSM-Morganton. Metzger has served in a number of leadership roles across the state including as director of public relations for Visit North Carolina, marketing director for Our State magazine, and as executive director for both the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council.

In addition to the construction and one-time operating funding appropriated by the NC General Assembly, NCSSM also received recurring funding for a permanent role of university program specialist to provide program and high level administrative support to the NCSSM-Morganton planning office with specific responsibilities in the areas of budget, communications, data, and meeting and event coordination. A search to fill the role has begun with the goal of filling the position within the month.

According to Baxter, enthusiasm about NCSSM-Morganton is building throughout the state. “The infusion of these new funds and talent will ensure opening of a state-of-the-art facility in the the fall of 2021 that will draw exceptionally talented students to the foothills of western North Carolina for a world-class academic experience in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.”