03/18/04 — Commissioners tour Wayne Community

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Commissioners tour Wayne Community

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 18, 2004 2:05 PM

Recent expansions to Wayne Community College's campus will help the college better prepare tomorrow's workers, college President Ed Wilson told the county commissioners this week.

Wilson led the commissioners on a tour Tuesday of the campus. He pointed out recent construction, such as the expansion of its dental clinic, and detailed plans for two new buildings on the Wayne Memorial Drive campus.

Wayne commissioners tour WCC

News-Argus/Matt Shaw

Wayne Community College President Dr. Ed Wilson, with umbrella, leads county commissioners on a campus tour on Tuesday. The college is in the middle of a $13 million building program.

He asked for the commissioners' continued support of its multi-million-dollar building program, a portion of which is locally funded.

The commissioners were impressed.

"I can't imagine that there's a nicer, better laid-out community college in North Carolina," said Chairman Ken Gerrard after the tour.

Gerrard attended two years at the college's old campus and has been amazed about how far the school has come, he said. "Dr. Wilson and his staff have done a great job with facilities. They developed a master plan, they've stuck to it, and now pieces of the puzzle are coming together."

Wayne Community College is one of the oldest schools in the state community college system, but its mission is still clear -- training the workforce, Wilson said. Between 60 to 75 percent of jobs require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

"We're in the right niche," he said.

The college continues to have strong enrollment numbers, he said. It had more than 4,400 curriculum students and nearly 10,000 continuing education students in 2003.

Nearly 40 percent of Wayne County's high school graduates last spring enrolled at the college in the fall, Wilson said. Another large group of students is laid-off workers training for new careers.

The college's building program is allowing the college room to expand popular programs and serve students better, Wilson said.

Much of the construction is funded by the statewide Higher Education Improvement Bonds referendum passed in 2000, which provided almost $13 million to the college.

Last fall the college opened a 4,850-square-foot child-care center, used to train child-care workers, and a 2,850-square-foot addition to its dental hygiene clinic. The projects cost about $1.5 million combined.

The college will be accepting bids later this month for the new Continuing Education Center, a 30,000-square-foot two-story building. It will include a 50-seat teaching auditorium. Work is expected to be completed in May 2005.

The college will also build a new classroom building at the rear of the campus. It will also be around 30,000 square feet and will likely house computer and public safety classes. Design will begin this spring, with construction slated to begin next spring and end in May 2006.

Both of the new buildings are expected to cost in excess of $4 million.

More than $1 million in renovations are also planned to two campus buildings. Administrative offices will be moved from the college's main building to the Dogwood Building, which will allow the student store to be doubled in size, Wilson said.

The auto body shop is due for a $275,000 expansion. The Holly Building had its roof replaced, and the Dogwood Building's roof will be replaced next year. The student lounge is being renovated and expanded.

The college has nearly completed a maintenance storage building that will allow indoor storage of most equipment.

A pond was constructed to capture all storm water runoff.