Wharton Gladden Host Tour of High Point University
(GREENSBORO, NC) April 14, 2014 – By any measure, the growth and expansion at High Point University over the past decade has been extraordinary. The numbers tell part of the story – a campus up from 90 acres to more than 360, a student body numbering over 4,000 (up from 1,500 in 2007), and a capital investment of more than $1 billion.
But to really understand High Point’s transformation one needs to see the campus in person. On Friday, April 11, Wharton Gladden invited clients and friends on a private tour of the campus. More than 40 regional leaders and professionals attended the tour.
Dr. Donald Scarborough, the university’s vice president for community relations, told the group that High Point’s goal is developing a “new paradigm in higher education.” Instead of emulating the design and feel of other campuses, High Point takes its cues from places like Disneyland, the Ritz Carlton and Dave & Busters. On the International Promenade running through the center of campus, the benches lining the grass lawn include statutes of notable leaders like Rosa Parks, Beethoven and Ghandi, while classical music wafts from speakers. Fountains and gardens dot the campus.
The result is a campus with a unique energy that feels less like a college and more like the “real world” where students will live and work after they graduate. And, Scarborough says, that’s the point.
“We try to design classrooms that emulate what you’ll see in the professional world,” he says. In Norton Hall, one classroom is a trading room lined with a stock ticker; another classroom is filled with the same graphic design presentation tools used at top agencies. When students need to make a classroom presentation, they book time at a board room that would not be out of place in a Fortune 500 company’s headquarters. In the Nido Qubein School of Communication Building (named for HPU’s president), facilities include the Game Design Lab, two full-scale broadcast studios and digital control room.
The university’s growth has been a boon to the local economy, not just because of the influx of students and new employees. For its new construction and renovations, HPU uses a local architectural firm and tries to hire local contractors and sub-contractors. Throughout its buildings, furnishings are from designers with a presence in High Point, which is still home to the largest home furnishings trade show and market in the world. The university estimates that its annual economic impact on the area is more than $400 million. Planned construction of a new School of Medicine and School of Science should continue that trend.
The tour was a pleasant surprise for many on the tour. Katrina Redmon, the vice president and chief development officer for the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, said that her mother attended High Point University in the 1950s. “I couldn’t wait to see all they’ve done on campus,” she said after the tour. “I had no idea. It’s marvelous!”
Wharton Gladden Associate Director Michael Byers had never visited HPU before the tour. “The focus on the client – which is the student – really surprised me,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a traditional university; it feels like a family who are all here to better themselves. My takeaway is that, if you put the client’s needs up front, the project will flourish.”
Scarborough says that he loves giving these tours of campus because of the visitors’ reactions. “I like to watch their eyes light up because they think they know what High Point is,” he says. “But if they haven’t been here recently, they don’t know.”
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