Students at Lenoir-Rhyne University returned to campus this week for the 2017-18 academic year, where they were greeted with many new and renovated spaces to learn and reside.
Nearly 500 new undergraduate students are beginning their college journey at LR, including approximately 400 first-year students and 100 transfer and adult students. The start of the new academic year marks the ninth straight year of record enrollment for LR, which now has approximately 2,600 students total, including graduate students on the Asheville and Columbia, South Carolina campuses. While enrollment continues to climb, growth is also being seen on campus with a number of new projects taking place over the summer.
"We continue to see growth thanks to improvements and additions to campus such as the addition to the Minges Science Complex, a new upperclassmen residence hall, and new programmatic offerings," said Bradleigh Uthe, Director of Undergraduate Admission. "It's always exciting to welcome incoming students and families we have worked with over the past year, to a campus that is showing great progress and providing students with the best living and learning environment possible."
A total of over 875 students are expected to live on campus, 96 of which will live in the newly constructed upperclassmen apartments on 4th Street NE. The $5.1 million project added a total of three fully furnished units, capable of holding 32 students each.
The 35,000 square-foot addition of Alex and Lee George Hall to the Minges Science Complex, a $17 million project, was also completed over the summer. Students will now begin enjoying state-of-the art laboratories, classrooms, and research space for disciplines ranging from inorganic chemistry to microbiology and physiology.
An expansion project to the Mauney Music building is expected to be complete next month, which will add a 3,000 square-foot second story to the facility. The new addition will add space for the University's collection of choral and instrumental sheet music, along with an instrument storage room. The $500,000 project was made possible through a generous gift from Mr. James Gossler, an LR alumnus, and retired band and choir teacher at Freedom High School. "The Music Program is most grateful for Mr. Gossler's generosity and his proactive approach to providing Lenoir-Rhyne's students with the best possible educational experience," said Dr. Daniel Kiser, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Director of University Bands, and conductor of the LR Wind Symphony. "Once the building is complete this fall, we will have the capacity to accommodate the program's growth for some time."
Further projects completed across campus this summer included upgrades to the Daniel E. Rhyne building, Minges Science Complex, and the Visual Arts building, all of which received new furnishings. A total of 67 new computers were installed in classrooms across campus, providing a $53,196 upgrade funded by a grant from the Cannon Charitable Interests. This was processed through a comprehensive grant titled Replacement Technology, which totaled $150,000. Other components of the grant were for projectors, screens, and wiring.
Expanding graduate programs and campuses
LR's graduate programs are also on the rise, with approximately 900 students currently enrolled in nearly 30 different programs. A recently announced Doctor of Nursing Practice program will launch in the fall of 2018. The Master of Public Health program also recently received accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), making LR one of five institutions in North Carolina, and the only private university in the state, with a CEPH-accredited MPH program.
"The recent accreditation for our MPH program and the approval for our first doctoral program, the DNP, illustrate the strategic vision Lenoir-Rhyne has for providing Health Science professionals for our various communities," said Dr. Michael McGee, Dean of the College of Health Sciences. "The faculty involved in developing these programs should be commended for their hard work and dedication to Lenoir-Rhyne. Dr. Kerry Thompson, Chair of the School of Nursing, and Dr. Randy Bergman, Program Coordinator for MPH, deserve special recognition for their leadership in completing the approval processes for our new programs."
On the Columbia campus, an inaugural class of 32 Occupational Therapy (OT) students will be housed in a nearly 24,000 square-foot classroom facility, which was completed earlier this month at a cost of $4.8 million. The OT program will occupy the first floor which is almost 12,000 square feet, while the second floor will be finalized when the needs of a future program are decided.
Asheville's campus is acquiring an additional 9,181 square-feet of space in the office building condominium it shares with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. The purchase and initial renovation of this space will add two classrooms, one seminar room and eight offices, with a total cost of approximately $2.2 million. Renovation of the new space will begin later this month and will be ready for use in the spring semester of 2018. Three more classrooms and a chapel may possibly be added at a later date, during a second phase of the project.