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Appalachian’s Board of Trustees learn of university’s growing pains

BOONE—The ever-increasing number of college-bound students and their continued interest in enrolling at Appalachian State University, plus the record crowds attending university football games, are resulting in growing pains at the university.

Members of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees heard reports during their meeting Friday, Sept. 21,

on ways the university may respond to those demands, including revision of the university’s master plan related to campus growth.

“The university’s master plan was last updated in 2000 and typically we update those plans every eight to 10 years,” explained Interim Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Greg Lovins. “It is particularly timely given that the university is also reviewing and changing its strategic plan. The timing is right to integrate the changes in the strategic plan with the master plan.

Architectural firms will be asked to submit requests for proposals to help create the master plan and that an advisory committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, administrators, trustees and community members would be appointed to work with the selected firm to assist with the plan.”

“This is not going to be a plan that is developed in a vacuum without involvement from the community,” said Board of Trustees Chairman James Deal. “We want to make sure as we move forward that we have all the constituencies involved in the development of this plan.”

Demand from the University of North Carolina System for all UNC campuses to increase enrollment, coupled with young people’s increased interest to attend Appalachian will also be considered as the master plan is developed Lovins said.

“The need to have academic and residential space on campus to accommodate all those who want to come here is important,” he said.

The university received nearly 13,000 applications for one of the 2,750 spots in this fall’s freshman class. Those freshmen are required to live on campus, according to Dino DiBernardi, associate vice chancellor for student development.

“As we have increased our freshman enrollments, that has had an impact on our housing available for our upper classmen,” he said. In 2001, 46 percent of students living on campus were freshmen. This fall, 54 percent of on-campus students are freshmen. “You can see where the trend is going and we are a little concerned about that,” DiBernardi said.

Research indicates that students who live on campus past their freshman year are more likely to complete college. They also tend to have higher grade point averages than students living off campus.

“We know we need to add space and we need to do it sooner rather than later,” said Tommy Wright, interim director of housing and residence life. “We want to provide (living) space on campus.”

It costs approximately $15 million to construct a 300-bed residential facility, Wright said. Residence hall construction is financed by housing fees paid by on-campus students.

As a result of the record-breaking crowds attending Mountaineer football games and a sold-out football season, the Board of Trustees directed university staff to develop a plan to increase seating on the east side of Kidd Brewer Stadium, with the goal of having 4,000 to 5,000 additional seats by next football season, if possible.

“I have received numerous phone calls, e-mails and other forms of communication from people who can’t get tickets to get into our stadium,” Deal said. “I think it’s appropriate for us at this time to explore the expansion of the east stands.”

Deal said the additional seating would also allow more students to attend a home football game.

University staff members were asked to develop an expansion plan, including necessary funding, that could be considered at the board of trustee’s December meeting.

In other action, three retired members of Appalachian’s faculty have been granted emerita status by the Board of Trustees.

Susan Golden, who retired in June after a 26-year career in Belk Library and Information Commons, was granted professor emerita status.

Professor emeritus status was granted to Edward G. Pekarek Jr. and Lorin Raymond. Pekarek retired in June 2006 following a 28-year career at Appalachian. He served 20 years in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and eight years in the Department of Computer Science. He was chair of the computer science department for five years.

Raymond retired in June following a 30-year career in the Department of Geology. He served as chair of the department for five years.