The arrival of spring brings with it the beginning of a new chapter in the planning for NCSSM-Morganton. Kevin Baxter, director of western campus planning for North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, announced the formation of two new steering teams that will focus on external engagement and campus operations Morganton. In both cases, the teams comprise diverse people representing the institution, the UNC System, K-12 and higher education, business and industry, and governments throughout western North Carolina.
The External Engagement Steering Team will advise and inform NCSSM-Morganton planning through the development of strategic initiatives aimed at building a robust and inclusive community of champions and benefactors. This work will particularly address the need for an additional $20 million to support the construction of the campus to meet the vision laid out in the master plan. NCSSM is committed to raising $5 million in private support while advocating for $15 million in state appropriations for the capital construction needs of the new campus, scheduled to open in 2021.
Robin Nicholson, government and community relations district manager for Duke Energy, is one of 15 members named to the external engagement steering team. “Education, and especially STEM education, of our future leaders is a process we must begin now,” she says. “Expanding NCSSM to Burke County is a significant step for education, the economy, our citizens of North Carolina, and the overall health of this area. Duke Energy is honored to be a strong participant in the planning and development of this expansion and looks forward to working with all students and leadership of this campus.”
The Campus Operations Steering Team will engage an equally important focus, advising and informing NCSSM-Morganton planning on schematic design, physical infrastructure, business processes, innovative partnerships throughout the region and state, and the connections of the new campus within the broader institution.
The Campus Operations Steering Team comprises 16 leaders from across the region and the institution. David Bennett, chief operating officer at EJ Victor and cofounder of Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton, is one of those who answered the call to serve: “As a native of Morganton, I am honored and humbled to be part of a project that has the potential to shape our region for years to come. Having the western campus of NCSSM located in Morganton is a generational event, and how the campus is woven into the existing fabric of our community will be extremely important in providing educational and enrichment opportunities for its students.”
NCSSM is excited to engage these partners as phase two of planning is initiated. While the work of these two steering teams has begun, the institution envisions the rollout of three additional teams this summer, provided operational support is approved by the General Assembly. “We are indebted to so many who have invested their time and talent in the NCSSM-Morganton planning process,” said Todd Roberts, NCSSM’s chancellor. “This next phase of activity will be especially important in identifying critically needed funding for the project while also designing an innovative and efficient infrastructure to manage our new campus.”
This next planning period will seek to capitalize on the positive outcomes and framework of the project’s initial phase, according to Baxter. “As you may recall, our core planning team worked alongside administrators, architects, and consultants to wrap up our advance planning phase for the project last fall. We are now prepared to operationalize much of this work as we construct the eighteenth campus of the UNC System, the first such campus commissioned to deliver a comprehensive, modern approach toward STEM education in western North Carolina.”