Western Carolina University is looking for feedback as the school updates its future land use plan.
This year’s student population at Western Carolina University surpassed the predictions which estimated there would be just over 11,000 students in the year 2023. Mike Beyers is chief financial officer of the school.
“As we work on this update we don’t plan to project the growth to be quite as great over last 8 years. We expect it to slow a bit,” said Beyers.
The Cullowhee campus of Western Carolina University is about 600 acres. Beyers says the updates will likely focus on upgrading older facilities.
“The master plan isn’t looking so much at how many square ft to accommodate growth but rather how will we deal with aging facilities that we currently have,” said Beyers.
Many included in the previous master plan from 2014 have already taken place. That includes new student housing, a new parking deck and the $110.5 million Apodaca science building, which opened in August.
“The Apodaca Science Building, it actually replaces an old building the Natural Science Building which was very well outdated. Now Apodaca Science will replace that and then some with some additional square footage and 21st technology for STEM courses,” said Beyers.
With a population of just 7,700, the town of Cullowhee’s growth is intrinsically linked with the growth of the school. Beyers hopes that locals will come out to the public forms to share their thoughts.
“It’s important to take time and hear from everyone about how the next master plan and update will guide Western’s physical development,” said Beyers.
Public forums will be held virtually Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. Zoom links can be found at the school’s website.