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ARHS Pledge Supports Appalachian State’s Health Sciences Campus, Nine Acres on State Farm and Deerfield

Officials from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) have announced a pledge that will support construction of a health sciences complex to house Appalachian State University’s College of Health Sciences. ARHS will donate a nine-acre tract of land to the university if state funding is obtained to build the complex. Participating in the joint announcement made during the March 23 meeting of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees were Dr. Fred Whitt, left, founding dean of the college, Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock and Richard Sparks, ARHS president and CEO. Photo by Marie Freeman

March 26, 2012. BOONE — Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) has pledged a nine-acre tract of land on the corners of State Farm and Deerfield roads to Appalachian State University and its real estate foundation, contingent on the university securing funds from the state of North Carolina to construct a permanent building for the College of Health Sciences.

State funding would have to be obtained by the end of the university’s $200 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Appalachian, which is scheduled to conclude Dec. 31, 2014.

“This type of creative partnership not only benefits the university and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, it also benefits the region and the state,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. “Public and private partnerships are critical to the continued success of the college.

This is just one example of the many partners who are supporting our efforts to provide the best learning environment possible for the region’s and state’s future health care professionals.”

ARHS originally purchased the property in 2006 for future development, including a site for Appalachian’s growing nursing program. When plans to establish a College of Health Sciences were approved by the UNC Board of Governors in 2008, ARHS expanded its partnership role to support a permanent site for the college’s academic home.

 “As Appalachian Regional Healthcare System looked to the future and asked the question how do we make sure that quality healthcare services remain available, the answer was clear. We must form a strong partnership with Appalachian State University,” said Richard Sparks, ARHS president and CEO. “This special relationship brings together Appalachian State University’s commitment to excellence in health sciences educational opportunities and our promise to help find the most appropriate site for the future College of Health Sciences facility.”

Having a site dedicated to the university’s growing health sciences programs will transform the college, said Dr. Fred Whitt, founding dean of the college. “I can’t think of a more desirable footprint for the development of Appalachian’s new health sciences campus. While our partnership with ARHS goes far deeper than a footprint for a building, having a home for the new college will significantly facilitate growing our partnership with ARHS in our efforts to meet the existing and future healthcare needs of our region and beyond.”

ARHS and the university share a history related to early healthcare in the region. The campus infirmary that served only students from 1932-34 was closed for remodeling and reopened in 1938 as Watauga County Hospital, serving students and town residents. The hospital operated in what today is known as Founders Hall on Appalachian’s campus until 1968 when Watauga Medical Facility opened off Deerfield Road. 

“This is so fitting because Appalachian State Teachers College, in the 1930s, helped build the first hospital in Boone, which was located on the main campus. Now, 80 years later, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, the successor organization of that hospital, will return the favor by helping establish the College of Health Sciences campus,” Sparks said.

University officials envision building a 200,000-square foot facility to house the college’s 16 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, approximately 2,000 student majors, 115 faculty and staff, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Institute for Health and Human Services.

“Designing, constructing and occupying a state-of-the art facility for our growing College of Health Sciences is a top priority,” said Provost Lori S. Gonzalez.

“Currently, our programs within the College of Health Sciences are located in five different buildings across campus,” Gonzalez said. “An academic building dedicated to the health sciences campus will better serve our students and enable Appalachian to better respond to the needs of this region and the state by preparing highly skilled health care workers to enter the workforce.”