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.

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.

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Originally published July 17, 2017. Written by Kevin Baxter.

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