This story is featured in the Winter 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how High Point University is continuing its growth with the Congdon School of Health Sciences and the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy — a $120 million investment.
It’s the direction in which High Point University sets its sights.
Dr. Nido Qubein sees the bright future beyond the mountainous construction on the southern side of campus and $150 million in enhancements underway.
He saw it more than a decade ago when he arrived. There was deferred maintenance then and facilities in need of new life. He energized campus in a way that not only inspired a physical change, but also a change in the university’s DNA.
A can-do attitude was infused. He calls it the art of the possible.
Ten years later, remarkable things have been accomplished. Undergraduate enrollment has tripled. The number of faculty almost tripled. The size of campus has quadrupled. So has the number of employees.
But it’s just the beginning. At a ground breaking last fall, the next step began with construction of the Congdon School of Health Sciences and the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy. Hundreds gathered at the memorable event in HPU’s history, including North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and 20 physician assistant studies students wearing white coats.
McCrory celebrated the 100 new jobs the schools will create, the 700 new graduate and doctoral level students they will bring to campus and the graduates they will produce to fill needed health care positions.
“That’s talent,” McCrory said, motioning to the students. “High Point University is building it to make sure our state and our nation are sustainable.”
A Campus of Innovation
Focusing future programs on undergraduate and graduate health care degrees is reflective of something else the governor told the crowd.
“To compete, you have to anticipate, not react,” McCrory said. “In business and politics, if you react, you’re late. It’s the same for education. What you’re doing now is responding to our future needs.”
The growth of High Point University is focused on preparing students for the world as it’s going to be. That’s why university leaders chose to embark on these programs. The landscape of health care is changing. Baby boomers are aging and retiring, yet they desire to stay active. More people than ever before have access to health care through the Affordable Care Act. These programs prepare students to tackle the challenges of a booming health care industry.
They’ll do it in the 224,000-square-foot complex that will house both academic schools and offer advanced biomedical research facilities, a cadaver lab, standardized client space that records students’ interactions with patients to allow for critiquing, and medical simulation labs.
“I came to High Point University because it has a can-do attitude,” said Dr. Dan Erb, dean of the School of Health Sciences who came to HPU from Duke University. “The programs that we’re building here are going to change lives.”
The first class of physician assistant students came to HPU in June 2015. These 20 students, selected out of 800 applicants, were the ones in the white coats at the ground breaking that day. The ones McCrory said will unleash talent needed in the world.
“We get to leave our finger print on this,” said Jamey Williams, a member of the inaugural class. “I get to be part of the image of this program. In another year, we’ll be practicing. And then for the first time, people will know what an extraordinary High Point University physician assistant can do.”
Investing in the Vision
Every aspect of the 10-year transformation — the increases in enrollment, academic majors, facilities and support staff — happened in the midst of one the worst economic recessions of this generation. Yet President Qubein and university supporters believed. And because they believed, they invested their time and energy to turn what seemed like the impossible into reality.
The $120 million total investment for these health sciences and pharmacy programs is the university’s single largest investment in history. It’s able to take that step without debt thanks to philanthropic investors and increased operating revenues.
“Our university is the American dream personified,” Dr. Qubein said. “This is what happens when you believe in the principles that built this great nation in the first place.”
Those principles resonate with the two families — Earl and Kitty Congdon, and Fred and Barbara Wilson — who are helping make this facility possible. Earl Congdon is executive chairman of Old Dominion Freight Line, one of America’s leading transportation logistic companies with 15,000 employees. Fred Wilson is chairman of the board of Piedmont Chemical Industries Inc., including five companies with plants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
For many years they’ve been involved at HPU. They serve on the Board of Trustees and have facilities on campus named in honor of their achievements in business, philanthropy and beyond. They’ve recently furthered their generous support of High Point University by each making eight-figure gifts.
At the official ground breaking ceremony, Dr. Qubein announced that the two academic schools would be named in their honor — the Congdon School of Health Sciences and the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy.
“They make it possible for us to bring these schools to fruition,” he said.
They become part of a group of multiple families who have given $10 million or more to HPU, and many others who have made major contributions of $1 million or more. A total of $280 million has been raised since 2005 without a formal campaign. After doubling faculty, tripling undergraduate enrollment and quadrupling the size of campus, HPU continues to flourish. In 2015 alone, the university opened Cottrell Hall, a $22 million facility funded by gifts from parents of students, and Centennial Square II, the university’s second town home complex.
“These individuals who invest in High Point University’s mission create an abundance of opportunity for our students,” Qubein said. “They have always had faith in our vision. When you have faith and you have courage, anything is possible.”
The World as It Will Be
How do we know what the world will be in the future? The answer is simple: we don’t.
But here’s what we do know: The future will always bring change. It will always offer opportunity. And it will always include challenge.
So High Point University prepares its students to be nimble, to embrace change and to learn how to anticipate the problems of tomorrow before they start. When they do that, they’re ready.
And they will do just that. HPU physician assistant studies will graduate its first class in 2017, while the School of Pharmacy anticipates accepting its first class in fall 2016.
Meanwhile undergraduate students are studying exercise science and master’s students are studying athletic training in the School of Health Sciences, while a doctoral program in physical therapy is slated to begin in 2017 — the same year the new complex will be completed.
Their clinical rotations will be completed in close proximity to campus, and they’ll graduate with many job opportunities available throughout the world. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows these fields are expected to grow up to 34 percent by 2024 — far faster than average.
The landscape of health care will continue to shift. What the world will be is a question mark. But the ability of High Point University graduates to tackle it is certain.
View this story and more in the Winter 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine: