If approved, the Connect NC Bond would provide $70 million for Appalachian to build a facility for the Beaver College of Health Sciences. Since its founding in 2008, the number of students taught by the college’s faculty has doubled, and Appalachian has developed an innovative partnership with Wake Forest University to increase access to health care for rural North Carolinians.
This project would provide a 200,000 square-foot facility for the College of Health Sciences to provide interprofessional collaboration, allowing all program areas, including Nursing, Social Work, Nutrition and Health and Exercise Science, to strengthen academic and public service programs. This building complex would be constructed in association with the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, which also donated the land for the building site. Located in close proximity to Watauga Medical Center, the learning facility would greatly expand the volume and quality of education, research and public service for the community and region. The work also would include renovations to Edwin Duncan Hall, which was built in 1975.
How does the selected project help meet Appalachian’s stated educational goals?
“Since Appalachian’s founding in 1899, the pioneering spirit necessary to overcome the mountains’ hardships has characterized the institution, giving Appalachian a special niche in higher education that continues today. After more than a century, students still feel the pull of this unique place to transform their lives, and Appalachian has remained focused on providing students with educational experiences that are not only life-changing but world-changing.
True to our mission, Appalachian’s newest college, the Beaver College of Health Sciences, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as engaged global citizens who understand their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The college emphasizes innovation and collaboration in education, scholarship and service. This project will more easily allow the college’s accomplished students and distinguished faculty and staff to transform health and quality of life for the communities we serve on a greater scale, thus meeting a critical need in our region of the state and beyond.”
What impact will completion of the project have beyond Appalachian’s campus?
“While primary care supply is currently strong overall in North Carolina, uneven distribution in rural areas means many areas of the state qualify as a primary care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). According to a 2012 Physicians Foundation survey, current primary care workforce and workforce in training in North Carolina is not projected to be adequate to handle the large increase in demand for services.
With funding from the Connect NC bond, Appalachian will expand its capacity to provide healthcare professionals for North Carolina. With qualified healthcare professionals and healthcare educators, Appalachian can help meet the demand created by a critical shortage of health care access, particularly for residents in the rural areas of our state.”
What other benefits of the bond passage would you like to discuss?
“Funding from the Connect NC bond will provide a location in which Appalachian’s excellent faculty will have the necessary facilities to provide interprofessional collaboration across the disciplines, which will in turn help attract talented students, faculty and staff to the Northwestern region of our state.
Nearly 20 percent of Appalachian’s students are taught by Beaver College of Health Sciences faculty. Including Nursing, there are six departments and 16 undergraduate and graduate degrees offered in the college, from disciplines including Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Nutrition and Health Care Management.”