UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne
Ponder welcomes the crowd to the
North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness groundbreaking
UNC Asheville held a celebratory groundbreaking
ceremony today for the North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness,
which will be the new home for a unique academic and outreach
initiative that is helping to address the state's most pressing
Construction of the center, projected to cost $42 million, is funded
in large part by the $35-million appropriation from the North
Carolina General Assembly.
North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney, who spoke at the ceremony,
said he has great hopes for long-term benefits of the Center's work
on the health of all North Carolina citizens.
"This project represents not only good vision on this campus but
good vision across the University system and good vision on the part
of the North Carolina General Assembly," Hackney said.
House Speaker Joe Hackney spoke
at the ceremony on April 29
The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness will
combine teaching, research and community collaborations to focus
initially on three statewide health issues: childhood obesity,
workplace wellness and senior wellness. The initiative is built
around UNC Asheville's Health and Wellness Promotion degree program,
now in its third academic year. It is the fastest growing major at
the University, with more than 100 students.
Keith Ray, UNC Asheville Health and Wellness Department Chair and
Associate Professor, said that 15 years ago experts felt America
wasn't yet hurting enough to focus on preventative care.
"In 2008 we are starting to hurt enough – economically, physically,
emotionally. And healthy living in America still remains the
difficult choice," Ray said. "We intend to work with the community
to make healthy living the easy choice – the easy choice for
children, the easy choice for employees in the workplace, and the
easy choice for older adults.
"Working together we will build a national model that enhances
student learning, strengthens the economy and improves the health
and wellbeing of the community. Ultimately, we must work together to
create a wellness culture in North Carolina and in America. As North
Carolina's public liberal arts university, UNC Asheville stands
ready to accept the challenge," Ray said.
Shovels and backhoe at the ready
The 133,500-square-foot N.C. Center for Health and Wellness will be
located in the heart of UNC Asheville's campus. It will contain
classrooms, research and teaching labs; cardiovascular and strength
training rooms; offices, meeting rooms and seminar space; studios
for dance, aerobics, yoga and other physical activity courses; a
wellness café and teaching kitchen; and incubator space for
wellness-related community enterprises.
The building's sustainable design features include a heat recovery
wheel to reduce heating and cooling costs, low-energy lighting
fixtures with occupancy sensors, rainwater cistern to supply a
future irrigation system for athletic fields, no-touch restroom
faucets to reduce water usage, and drought-tolerant, indigenous
The facility will also include a multipurpose convocation center,
the Kimmel Arena, which will have seating for 4,000 for
commencement, health symposiums and national speakers, and seating
for 3,400 for intercollegiate basketball. The arena provides the
campus' first venue that can hold all of the UNC Asheville's
Dr. Keith Ray said UNC Asheville is
ready to make healthy living the
UNC Asheville is raising $7 million in private funds for
programming, equipment, and non-health-and-wellness-related spaces.
Fundraising to date totals nearly $5 million.
Architects for the project are Bowers Ellis & Watson of Asheville
and HOK, an international firm that specializes in public assembly
architecture. The projected completion date is late 2010.
Although construction of the center is just starting, the center's
work is well under way. Students and faculty from 11 different
disciplines are already engaged in health-and-wellness research,
internships and service-learning. Projects have ranged from Wellness
Activities for Seniors (WASA) to Getting Into Fitness Together
(GIFT) for families and children. Research has included testing a
model of workplace wellness for Biltmore Estate employees and an
examination of parental involvement in promoting healthy behavior
among children attending Asheville elementary schools.
UNC Asheville is also actively engaged in collaborative planning
with Mission Hospitals, The Center for Health and Aging Initiative (MAHEC,
A-B Tech and Western Carolina University), Asheville/Buncombe
Institute of Parity Achievement, the Buncombe County Health Center,
Health Partners, local schools, the Healthy Buncombe Coalition and
Obesity Action Team, the Workplace Wellness Council of Western North
Carolina, Cliffs Communities and Zest Quest Childhood Wellness
Program, and the YMCA's Activate America Initiative.
For more information, click on
L to R: House Speaker Joe Hackney; UNC
Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder; UNC Asheville Health
and Wellness Department Chair and Associate Professor
Keith Ray; UNC Asheville Board of Trustees Chair
Janice Brumit; UNC Asheville Special Assistant to the
Chancellor Wilma Sherrill; UNC Asheville Student
Government Association President Tristyn Card; and UNC
Asheville Athletics Director Janet Cone