UNC Asheville’s project is part of a set of Targeted Capital Renewal Projects approved by the UNC Board of Governors in December 2014 as part of the operating budget. Five capital projects at three institutions were identified by the Board, and the gross allocation amounts for each institution reflect the student enrollment levels proportionally. The projects focus on renovations of existing structures.
This renewal project provides $21.2 million to renovate and revitalize Owen Hall, an academic building on UNC Asheville’s campus that has been in continuous use for 36 years with no major renovation or improvements. Owen Hall currently accommodates UNC Asheville’s Management and Art programs. In addition to repairs and improvements, this renovation will create much needed classroom space for the Mechatronic Engineering program, a joint program between UNC Asheville and NC State. Co-locating Art, Management and Engineering will allow for closer collaboration among these programs making Owen Hall a center for innovation, creativity and collaboration on campus.
Why is this particular project important to UNC Asheville?
“Our students are on the leading edge of what’s to come in the state and region and it is our responsibility to provide them with the support and resources that they need to do their very best work. North Carolina’s future artists, designers and entrepreneurs deserve a facility that’s top notch and designed for their current needs, not a relic of the needs of four decades past. The renovation of Owen Hall will create a nexus where Art, Management and Engineering can come together today and help create the Western North Carolina of tomorrow. We need to support that.”
How does the selected project help meet your stated educational goals?
“As North Carolina’s designated liberal arts university, UNC Asheville is dedicated to an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to higher education. The renovation of Owen Hall will allow us to rethink and reinvent the space so that it facilitates collaboration among our Art, Management and Engineering students. As these students graduate, they will join organizations where designers, managers and engineers all work together under the same roof toward a common goal. In fact, the true competitive advantage of many of today’s most iconic companies -- Apple, Google and Tesla Motors to name a few -- lies in the daily collaboration among these disciplines. This project will allow us to replicate that environment right here on campus. This interdisciplinary approach to education is at the heart of UNC Asheville’s mission as North Carolina’s designated public liberal arts university.”
What impact will completion of the project have beyond the campus?
“Western North Carolina has long been a center for the arts but in recent years we’ve really seen the area grow in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. Businesses are starting or moving to this region and they are looking for talented, educated employees who are capable of thinking critically and working closely with their peers in other disciplines. UNC Asheville is producing those graduates and the renovation of Owen Hall will serve to strengthen the university’s ability to bring tomorrow’s leaders to the area and the state. The project itself also will bring jobs to the area in the form of millions of dollars of work in construction and other trades. And so the impact for Asheville and Western North Carolina is significant. ”
What other benefits of the bond passage would you like to discuss?
“The Connect NC bond does a great deal for higher education and the region. It provides $980 million in much needed resources for education including the renovation of Owen Hall but that’s only half of what this bond will accomplish. It also provides funding for updates to vital infrastructure, parks and recreation and it does all of this without increasing taxes. This bond is a win-win for the voters of North Carolina.”