The sleeping giant awakens – Welcome back, 49ers!

UNC Charlotte freshmen have fun at Monday's Convocation.

UNC Charlotte freshmen have fun at Monday’s Convocation. Photo courtesy of UNC Charlotte

Hellooo Niner Nation!

Our university roars to life this week for the fall semester, with dozens of “Week Of Welcome” events from a chocolate binge to the 49,000 Water Balloons Fight, and plenty of good news. Enrollment tops 28,700. Belk College launches a new doctoral program. The showcase Sandra and Leon Levine Hall nears completion. And so much more!

 

Enrollment climbs, again

UNC Charlotte welcomes a record 28,700 undergraduate and graduate students this fall. That’s up about 700 from last year and up nearly 12,000 since 1999! Plans call for 32,000 students or more. Prepare to move over, ECU, NC State and Chapel Hill!

 

Campus improvements

You can’t miss the 425-bed Levine Hall rising at the main traffic circle near the University City Boulevard entrance. Levine Hall will house students of the Levine Scholars Program and Honors College, offices for those programs, student work-study areas and places for seminars. Completion is tentatively set for late this fall on the $45 million facility.

Several buildings are undergoing renovations, including:

  • Elm, Maple and Pine student housing renovations – These older buildings are being repurposed for office space and other uses and are getting major makeovers including modern interiors, mechanical equipment, windows and roofs. Cost: About $18.5 million. Estimated completion: June 2017.
  • Residence Dining Hall “repurposing” – The opening of the new South Village dining hall frees up this vintage 1970 facility near the old tower dorms (also being refurbished) to get a new life as the home of housing and residence life administration and food catering services. Cost: About $10.3 million. Estimated completion: late April 2017.
  • Burson Hall renovation – The university’s aging science building is being renovated and updated for the physics and chemistry departments. Cost: About $13.2 million. Estimated completion: late summer 2017.

 

More buildings for our growing university

Two vitally important buildings are among several projects in the university’s $400 million Five-Year Capital Plan.

  • New Science Building – Thanks to statewide voter approval of the $2 billion Connect NC bond issue, UNC Charlotte will receive $90 million to build its first new science building since 1985, when UNC Charlotte had 11,000 students. Construction start: TBD. Estimated completion time: 2 years.
  • New Health Wellness Center – This 160,000 square-foot facility near the Student Union will give UNC Charlotte’s students a great place to work out, swim, enjoy recreational sports and take fitness classes. Cost: About $66 million. Construction start: Currently estimated as July 2017. Estimated completion: summer 2019.

 

Unique business administration doctorate

As UNC Charlotte’s star rises amid major universities, so does its academic offerings. The latest: the first doctorate in business administration offered in the Carolinas, coming on line in fall 2017.

“There are currently very few options for business executive education beyond the master’s degree level in today’s business world,” says Jennifer Troyer, associate dean for graduate programs in the Belk College of Business. “The explosion of data, complex technology, and the increasing complexities of operating in a rapidly changing global environment requires abilities that exceed the MBA or executive MBA level.”

The Belk College of Business developed the DBA in partnership with the business community to address this unmet need in the Carolinas and create a premier business-applicable degree taught in an executive format.

 

Nearly finished road improvements

New sidewalks, bike lanes, curbs, gutters and traffic lights have been added over the past year to several main campus roads, including Phillips Road, Mary Alexander Road, Craver Road and Cameron Boulevard.

The most significant project completed so far is the vastly improved realignment of Phillips Road via a new bridge over Toby Creek and Toby Creek Greenway. People driving stick shifts were typically scarred for life after hitting a red light at the top of the steep hill where Phillips used to end at Cameron Boulevard.

The new alignment carries Phillips Road to a level, signalized intersection on Cameron Boulevard where Phillips flows into Craver Road. The new route also vastly improves safety for users of Toby Creek Greenway, which now passes under busy Phillips Road, rather than across it.

 

Coming soon: Signalized entrance at Cameron Blvd and NC 49 – The long awaited completion of a second signalized campus entrance on NC 49 (University City Boulevard) appears imminent. Traffic signals covered in black plastic dangle on new signal masts above University City Boulevard’s intersection with Cameron Boulevard.

Workers are finishing final improvements to Cameron Boulevard. Once everything is finished, this NC Transportation Department project will allow both right and left turns from Cameron onto NC 49 for the first time in several years.

Students living in the vastly expanded South Village dorm area will also benefit, since the signal will provide a safe way to walk and bike to nearby Town Center Plaza, a popular destination for dining, grocery shopping and working out at the fitness center.

 

Preparing for light-rail revolution

By the time the Class of 2020 returns for its sophomore year, light-rail service will likely be running from UNC Charlotte’s main campus to NoDa, uptown Charlotte, UNC Charlotte Center City, Spectrum Center (formerly Time Warner Cable Arena), South End and Pineville.

Having the line’s final station beside Cameron Boulevard means students, faculty and staff will have dependable transportation to and from campus running every 10-15 minutes for 20 hours every weekday, and every 20-30 minutes on weekends.

The university has created a web page to help students, staff and faculty get ready: www.lightrail.uncc.edu. The website offers many details about the future transit service, plus links to Charlotte Area Transit System social-media sites that provide frequent construction updates.

 

Light-rail ticket discounts coming soon, too

One important light-rail detail still to be nailed down: university discounts. “UNC Charlotte and CATS are working to create exclusive pass options for UNC Charlotte students, faculty and staff.  Details regarding these options should be finalized by fall of 2016,” the campus website says.

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