UNC President Margaret Spellings was among the dignitaries to visit the future site of NCSSM-Morganton last week. Pictured (l-r) are: NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts, Representative John Fraley, Representative Mike Clampitt, Spellings, Senator Andy Wells, Senator Warren Daniel, Representative Hugh Blackwell, and Representative Jonathan Jordan '86.


UNC President Spellings among dignitaries to visit future campus of NCSSM

The westbound I-40 exit ramps into Morganton were busier than usual last week as an influx of visitors arrived for an update on NCSSM-Morganton campus planning. Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina, joined members of the Board of Governors and state legislators for activities hosted by NCSSM on the campus of the North Carolina School for the Deaf. The attendees received a comprehensive update on the planning process for the western campus to include a project overview from Kevin Baxter, director of western campus planning at NCSSM; initial recommendations for the educational programmatic vision from Trip Stallings, director of policy research at the Friday Institute; and a report of the site evaluation and master planning process from Darren Lathan, senior associate at Duda|Paine Architects.

In spite of the unseasonably hot temperatures, the guests concluded the presentation with a walking tour of the eastern ridge that will become the home of the NCSSM-Morganton campus. Members of the architect team explained the vision for the new campus while visitors were able to gain first-hand appreciation for the sightlines and elevation changes on the site. At the conclusion of the tour, everyone gathered for a community luncheon under a large tent overlooking Western Piedmont Community College and the South Mountains.

NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts joined President Spellings and Tom Williams, chair of the NCSSM Board of Trustees, in expressing appreciation to the community leaders in attendance from across western North Carolina. In total, more than 120 guests were on site to celebrate the progress achieved to date for NCSSM’s emerging campus in Burke County. Attendees were quick to share their enthusiasm regarding the momentum surrounding the project.

“The faculty and staff of Western Piedmont Community College are very enthusiastic about working with our new neighbors at NCSSM to push education to its highest level,” said Michael Helmick, president of Western Piedmont Community College and member of the Western Campus Core Planning Team. “Sharing resources between our two institutions and among so many other regional partners will help prepare students for those careers that will shape the future of this community and this state, and we are pleased to be a part of that endeavor.”

The summer months are being used to test drive elements of the educational program plan across the state of North Carolina with NCSSM constituents and partners in education and industry. Baxter will be joined by members of the Western Campus Core Planning Team and consultants from the Friday Institute during nine visits from the mountains to the coast in July and August. The tour will include stops in Asheville, Boone, Charlotte, Cullowhee, Durham, Greenville, Morganton, Raleigh, and Wilmington.  Additional information pertaining to these events, including registration information for interested attendees, can be found on the NCSSM-Morganton web page.

The advance planning process will culminate in a presentation of the final educational program vision to the NCSSM Board of Trustees during their meeting in Morganton on September 29, 2017. Updates on the process will continue to be shared on the NCSSM-Morganton online dashboard and the accompanying web page.