App State Hickory Campus | Building Physical Infrastructure | Appalachian's Future (2024)

The renovation of App State’s Hickory campus is one of several major construction projects underway at Appalachian State University to enhance the App State Experience.

The project supports App State’s strategic priorities, as well as the university’s goals and metrics associated with the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan. It will benefit students, academics and the region.

Video Transcript

About

App State has established a new campus to expand public higher education access and outreach in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metro Area. The Hickory campus, housed in the former Corning Optical Communications building, located at 800 17th St. NW in Hickory, opened to students on Aug. 21, 2023 — the first day of classes for the fall semester. App State is offering the Hickory First Scholarship — a one-time scholarship in the amount of $2,000 — to the first 500 first-year and transfer students who meet the academic requirements and enroll at App State’s Hickory campus in 2024. Learn more about the Hickory campus and how to apply.

More than 100 undergraduate degree programs are available to students attending App State at the Hickory campus. The facility also offers a range of on-site support services and resources for students, which will evolve over time to meet students’ needs — with additional services and resources to be implemented in phases. These include:

  • Academic support services, including advising and tutoring.
  • Admissions and transfer services, along with registrar services.
  • A library, a writing center and a testing center.
  • Technology support.
  • Disability services.
  • Financial aid services.
  • Career development opportunities.
  • Student health and counseling services.
  • Sustainability initiatives.
  • Student recreation opportunities.
  • Clubs and organizations, as well as campus activities.

App State closed on the purchase of the Corning building on Nov. 19, 2021. At 225,800 square feet, the six-story building is larger than any building on App State’s Boone campus, including the 203,000-square-foot Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences. The building sits on 15.7 acres of land and includes large open spaces, a cafeteria and nearly 700 parking spaces. It is only a short drive from the second North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics campus, which opened in June 2022 in Morganton.

The campus has frontage along Highway 321, is located less than 2 miles away from the Hickory Regional Airport and 4 miles away from Interstate 40, and is close to downtown Hickory as well as two regional hospitals.

Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton and Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro are all within a one-hour drive of the campus, and all four are partners in the Aspire Appalachian Co-Admission Program, which provides a seamless pathway for students enrolled at partner community colleges to complete their degrees at App State. Also nearby, within an hour’s drive of the Hickory campus, are Mitchell Community College and McDowell Technical Community College.

Built in 1963, the building received an addition in 1972 and the top two floors were added in 1986. Corning moved out of the building in late 2019, and the building remained empty until App State’s purchase of the building in November.

Until November 2021, Hickory was the largest metropolitan area in North Carolina that did not have a major, public university campus.

A new student lounge at App State's Hickory campus opened to students in January 2024. The lounge, pictured, features a pool table, Skee-Ball machine, dartboard, as well as board games, a large flat-screen TV and seating and tables. Photo submitted

This aerial image, taken Dec. 21, 2023, provides a view of the new, energy-efficient membrane roof at App State's Hickory campus, installed as part of Phase 1 renovations to the facility. Photo by Wes Craig and Chase Reynolds

The App State Hickory campus, pictured on Aug. 16, 2023, opened to its inaugural class of Mountaineer students on Aug. 21, 2023 — the first day of fall semester classes at App State. Photo by Wes Craig

App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, center, cuts the ribbon on the new App State Hickory campus on Aug. 21. Pictured with Everts, from left to right, are App State Student Body President Juan Pablo “J.P.” Neri, UNC System Board of Governors member Philip Byers, App State Trustee Jeff Chesson, App State Board of Trustees Chair Kim Shepherd, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation President Scott Millar, App State Board of Trustees Secretary Tommy Sofield, Hickory Assistant City Manager Rick Beasley, App State Hickory first-year student Ashlynn Caudill and Hickory Mayor Hank Guess. Photo by Chase Reynolds

City of Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, far right, presents App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, center, with a handmade wooden key that he said “solidifies the forever partnership between the City of Hickory and Appalachian State University.” Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State Hickory student Ashlynn Caudill, a first-year communication sciences and disorders major from Lincolnton, far right, presents App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, center, with a commemorative bell on behalf of the inaugural class of Hickory Mountaineers. The bell symbolizes both the continuation of history and the new opportunities being created for the students attending App State Hickory. Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State Hickory students are pictured in one of the first-floor classrooms of the newly renovated Hickory campus. Photo by Chase Reynolds

The App State Founders Bell for the Hickory campus is shown on the first day of classes at the new facility — Aug. 21 — beneath the iconic App State block A that adorns the outside of the building, near the facility’s main entrance. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Work to replace the Hickory campus roof with a new, energy-efficient membrane roof continues, as shown in this June 2023 photo. Photo by Wes Craig

App State’s Hickory campus will offer common spaces for studying and collaborative work. One of the recently finished spaces is shown in this June 2023 photo. Photo by Troy Tuttle

App State’s Hickory campus will offer common spaces for studying and collaborative work. One of the recently finished spaces is shown in this June 2023 photo. Photo by Troy Tuttle

Newly installed carpet is shown in this June 2023 photo of the App State Hickory campus’s main floor. Photo by Troy Tuttle

Renovation work is underway for the main floor of App State’s Hickory campus, as shown in this June 2023 photo. Photo by Troy Tuttle

New landscaping at the App State Hickory campus, as of June 2023. Photo by Troy Tuttle

This June 2023 photo shows a nighttime view of the App State Hickory campus, which will open to students in fall 2023. Photo by Wes Craig

An artist's rendering showing open-concept study space for students in App State's Hickory campus, which is under renovation and will open to students in fall 2023. This image does not represent the finalized renovation design. App State graphic

An artist's rendering showing open-concept study space for students in App State's Hickory campus, which is under renovation and will open to students in fall 2023. This image does not represent the finalized renovation designs. App State graphic

An artist's rendering showing open-concept study space for students in App State's Hickory campus, which is under renovation and will open to students in fall 2023. This image does not represent the finalized renovation design. App State graphic

An artist's rendering showing open-concept study space for students in App State's Hickory campus, which is under renovation and will open to students in fall 2023. This image does not represent the finalized renovation design. App State graphic

A conceptual classroom at App State's Hickory campus is shown in this artist's rendering. This image does not represent the finalized design for Hickory campus classrooms. App State graphic

A conceptual breakout room for small group discussions at App State's Hickory campus is shown in this artist's rendering. This image does not represent the finalized design for Hickory campus breakout rooms. App State graphic

The planned layout for the first level of App State's Hickory campus, which is under renovation and will open to students in fall 2023. As shown, planned spaces for the first level include classrooms, health sciences clinics, faculty offices, a student health clinic, campus stores, a library, student services offices and study spaces for students. App State graphic

An evening view of App State’s Hickory campus in January 2023. Two signature App State block A’s illuminate the building for passersby. Photo by Troy Tuttle and Brandon Pope

Two individuals prepare to enter App State’s Hickory campus on Jan. 30, 2023, to attend the university’s first information session for prospective Hickory campus students. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Prospective students and their families engage with App State staff and faculty during a Hickory campus information session held Jan. 30, 2023, at the campus. Photo by Chase Reynold

Prospective students and their families engage with App State staff and faculty during a Hickory campus information session held Jan. 30, 2023, at the campus. Photo by Chase Reynold

The home of the future library and information commons inside App State’s Hickory campus. Photo by Troy Tuttle

App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, second from right, holds a plaque featuring a framed copy of the university’s Nov. 19, 2021, news release announcing App State’s establishment of the App State Hickory campus. The plaque was presented to Everts during the second meeting of the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council, held at the campus Oct. 14, 2022. Pictured with Everts are City of Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, far left, Warren Wood, City of Hickory Manager, second from left, and Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, pictured at top, center, speaks during the second meeting of the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council, held Oct. 14, 2022, at the campus. Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State Chancellor Sheri Everts speaks at the second meeting of the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council, held Oct. 14, 2022, at the campus. Photo by Chase Reynolds

App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, second from right in foreground, speaks with members of the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council during the council’s second meeting, held Oct. 14, 2022, at the Hickory campus. Photo by Chase Reynolds

This concept art provides an aerial view of the former Corning Optical Communications building in Hickory, North Carolina, which App State purchased on Nov. 19, 2021. The six-story, 225,800-square-foot facility is the largest in App State’s buildings portfolio and will be home to the App State Hickory campus. Graphic by Jim Fleri

Workers apply signage to the App State Hickory campus building, including App State's signature block A, in August 2022. Photo by Mike Kapp

Workers apply signage to the App State Hickory campus building, including App State's signature block A, in August 2022. Photo by Mike Kapp

From left to right, City of Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts and Catawba County Economic Development Corporation President Scott Millar are pictured at an event announcing the new App State Hickory campus on Nov. 19, 2021. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Chancellor Sheri Everts, sixth from right, poses with her leadership team inside the new App State Hickory campus building on Nov. 19, 2021. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Concept art showing a view of the former Corning Optical Communications building in Hickory, North Carolina, from U.S. Highway 321 and with App State signage on the building. The building was purchased by App State on Nov. 19, 2021, for the future App State Hickory campus. Graphic by Jim Fleri

App State signage and the university’s block A icon are shown at the 17th Street entrance of the former Corning Optical Communications building in Hickory, North Carolina. App State closed on its purchase of the building on Nov. 19, 2021, for its future App State Hickory campus. Graphic by Jim Fleri

A conceptual rendering of the cybersecurity lab to be constructed on the second floor of App State's Hickory campus building. Note, designs for the cybersecurity lab are still in development. Graphic courtesy of Little Diversified Architectural Consulting

Status

App State’s Hickory campus opened to its inaugural class of students on Aug. 21, 2023 — the university’s first day of classes for the fall 2023 semester. The facility currently has capacity for up to 500 students and is open for prospective students and their families, who can visit the campus Monday–Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. App State staff are on-site to assist students who wish to enroll at the campus. Learn more about information sessions and open house events for the Hickory campus.

Phase 2 renovations to the Hickory campus are underway and will be completed in phases over the next two to three years. These renovations include creating more classrooms and offices on the second floor, with some new classrooms to be ready by fall 2025, as well as a new computer lab, cybersecurity lab and sciences lab, which are scheduled to be completed in summer 2024. Equipment for the labs has been ordered, and second-floor demolition work related to the construction of these labs is anticipated to begin soon. Additionally, a coffee kiosk is being planned for the student lobby area on the north end of the building and is slated to open in fall 2024. Construction designs for Phase 2 renovations to the Hickory campus are in progress.

Finishing touches for the campus’s Phase 1 renovation were completed the week before the facility’s opening. Completed Phase 1 renovation projects at the Hickory campus include:

  • Classroom technology upgrades, including high-speed wired and wireless access and student workspaces that have the latest in collaborative technology.
  • New controls for the building’s HVAC system, which will optimize efficiencies and monitor performance to quickly identify issues that may need to be addressed.
  • The replacement of the facility’s roof with a new, energy-efficient membrane roof that is designed to accept future solar arrays.
  • Energy-efficient LED light fixtures and brighter, code-compliant lighting for parking lot lights.
  • The removal of cubicles to open up classroom space, and the installation of additional classrooms and lounge space.
  • New carpet, ceilings, paint and furniture, with some existing furniture being utilized.
  • New exterior and interior signage.

An energy efficiency study of the Hickory campus building was conducted in 2023 and provided recommendations for ways to increase the facility’s energy efficiency — including replacing the current building lighting with high-efficiency LED lighting, installing a new exterior cladding, or layer, to the building, and upgrading the facility’s HVAC system with new, efficient air handlers. LED lighting and air handlers are being incorporated as each phase of the Hickory campus progresses.

Interim Chancellor Heather Hulburt Norris, App State vice chancellors and vice provosts, and other members of campus leadership are working several hours a week at the Hickory campus. Deans and other App State leadership will have a presence at the campus as needed, based on program offerings.

In preparation for opening the campus, former Chancellor Everts and her leadership team met regularly with state and local government officials and education and business leaders to ensure the university envisioned the best academic support to meet the needs of the region. She established the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council in spring 2022, which comprises campus leaders and business, education, government and civic leaders from Hickory and the surrounding area who are assisting App State in evaluating the needs of the community and greater area as the Hickory campus evolves.

Partnerships with the City of Hickory and other local government, education, civic and business leaders in the area allowed the university to hold listening sessions with many constituency groups representing Hickory and the surrounding areas. Through these, and the meetings of the Advisory Council and the App State Faculty Hickory Campus Task Force, App State has learned much about what the area needs and expects from its state university. More than 400 individual comments from campus and community members were synthesized.

App State Interim Chancellor Heather Hulburt Norris and the Academic Affairs leadership team have worked to develop an academic plan that meets the needs of the Hickory area. Among the course and program offerings for fall 2023:

  • Basic education courses for students who want to get an App State degree while attending classes at the Hickory campus.
  • Business classes, including accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing and supply chain management; programs in supply chain management, hospitality and tourism, accounting, computer information systems and cybersecurity, finance and banking, management and more; and a broad-based professional studies program for those who want to design a four-year degree, complete a degree they have begun with a specialization in business, or turn their associate degree into a four-year business-related degree.
  • Elementary education teacher preparation, for those who wish to complete a degree they have begun with a specialization in teaching, or turn their associate degree into a four-year elementary education degree.
  • Health sciences programs, including public health, social work, health care management and communication sciences and disorders.
  • Numerous humanities offerings, including programs in English, global studies, history, religious studies, philosophy, and languages, literatures and cultures.
  • Programs in the social sciences, including criminal justice, geography, sociology, public relations and psychology.

The progression of Hickory campus program offerings will include:

  • Expansion of business offerings, through data analytics and financial literacy, and more advanced accounting, information technology, marketing and management offerings.
  • Additional health sciences programs, including nursing, and programs focused on rural health care to meet the needs of the region.
  • Programs and courses offered through the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment and applied design/digital fabrication.
  • General education courses, as well as major-specific courses needed for students to complete their degrees efficiently, and for those who transfer in with associate degrees, will be offered in accordance with demand.
  • Engineering and aviation are in App State’s long-term discussions, and the university is reviewing its current academic offerings to evaluate current courses as foundational pieces for these programs in the future.

A third location of the Beaver College of Health Sciences Interprofessional Clinic, offered through App State’s Appalachian Institute for Health and Wellness, is located on the north side of the Hickory campus building, with a separate entrance. The clinic has already begun offering a support group for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients and caregivers and will also offer aging well programs, with free screenings for people ages 60 and above focusing on cognition and fall risk assessment.

Additional services under discussion for the future include on-site child care, performing and visual arts, a data science center, and opportunities for community and corporate engagement. App State plans to take a phased approach in offering more extensive academic programs and student services and resources and will continue to build upon them over time.

Learn more about the undergraduate degree programs offered at App State’s Hickory campus.

How is it funded?

App State paid nearly $1.02 million to purchase the Corning building in fall 2021 and has received $50 million in state-allocated funding — as part of the FY 2021–22 biennial budget bill and the latest state budget — to support renovations to the building.

Of the $9 million in state-allocated funding received in 2021, approximately $6 million supported Phase 1 upgrades to the facility, and the remaining funds, around $3 million, will support initial Phase 2 renovations for the building’s second floor.

Through the latest state budget, the university received $41 million for future Hickory campus renovations, to be allocated over the next four fiscal years:

  • $4.1 million in FY 2024–25.
  • $12.3 million in FY 2025–26.
  • $14.35 million in FY 2026–27.
  • $10.25 million in FY 2027–28.

Who will benefit?

In 2018, when former Chancellor Everts was a commissioner and co-chair of the Higher Education Task Force for myFutureNC, a statewide commission on educational attainment, the commission set a goal to ensure that 2 million North Carolinians have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030.

Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton and Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro are all within a one-hour drive of the campus, and all four are partners in the Aspire Appalachian Co-Admission Program, which provides a seamless pathway for students enrolled at partner community colleges to complete their degrees at App State. Also nearby, within an hour’s drive of the Hickory campus, are Mitchell Community College and McDowell Technical Community College.

Additionally, with the opening of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) Western Campus in Morganton, App State and NCSSM will be able to develop partnerships on research projects, particularly related to sustainability and resilience in Western North Carolina.

How does it support App State strategic priorities?

The Hickory campus aligns with App State’s fundamental purpose of teaching, research and service, and it supports two of App State’s six strategic priorities for 2022–27, namely:

  • Providing Exceptional Educational Experiences that foster student success and add demonstrated value to students’ investment in higher education; and
  • Advancing Local, Regional and Global Engagement to foster lasting economic vitality.

The university’s expansion into the Hickory area allows App State to increase access to public higher education for the more than 365,000 individuals who reside in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area (2020 U.S. Census data). This will help meet the myFutureNC goal of 2 million North Carolinians having obtained a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030.

App State’s innovative, relevant academic programs provide students with career readiness skills, preparing graduates for professional success — in communities across the state, the nation and the world. More than 100,000 App State alumni live and work in North Carolina, contributing to the state’s communities — including those that are rural and underserved.

How does it support UNC System Goals and Metrics?

Positioning an App State campus in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metro Area aligns with the university’s mission to increase access to higher education and with the UNC System Strategic Plan priorities of:

  • increasing access to underserved populations;
  • maximizing affordability; and
  • expanding the UNC System’s contribution to the state’s critical workforces.

Video Transcript

In 1899, the Doughertys began their founding mission of providing access to education in the mountains of North Carolina. It started with 53 students enrolled at the Watauga Academy, and, over 120 years later, has grown into App State, the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast. Their vision of access to education now extends to the heart of the Catawba Valley with App State’s Hickory campus.

Earn the same unparalleled education closer to home, with expert faculty and more than 100 undergraduate majors available for students who wish to begin or continue their four-year degrees at App State. Whether you’re on the mountain or in the valley, App State is here for you! Apply today, and see why it’s great to be a Mountaineer.

Related Links:

  • App State’s new cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program begins this fall at Boone, Hickory campuses
  • Important Budget Update from Chancellor Sheri Everts
  • App State opens Hickory campus, expanding educational access in Western North Carolina
  • App State Police welcomes Ericka Heath to Hickory campus — and back to her alma mater
  • App State's Hickory Campus: Opening 2023
  • App State purchases 6-story building, 15-plus acres to establish Hickory campus
  • Budget Update from Chancellor Sheri Everts
App State Hickory Campus | Building Physical Infrastructure | Appalachian's Future (2024)

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