A portion of a 34.5-acre site on Waxhaw-Marvin Road could become home to a community college, university bachelor’s and graduate programs and a park, depending on the results of a feasibility study set to begin this month and wrap up by next May.
Officials from South Piedmont Community College, the Town of Waxhaw and Wingate University announced plans to explore the joint venture following SPCC president Maria Pharr’s presentation of the idea to the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners, which gave its approval to the study Tuesday night. Wingate University is considering whether to move programs it has currently located at Ballantyne to the proposed Waxhaw location.
Pharr said the idea would be to provide a continuum of higher education from the associate’s level through the graduate level on a minimum of 10 acres near the intersection of Waxhaw-Marvin and Gray Byrum roads, a site owned by the Town of Waxhaw and located within 15 minutes of Cuthbertson, Marvin Ridge, and Weddington high schools.
She told Waxhaw leaders that the town had been very welcoming as she had explored potential sites, and that accessibility, utilities and the potential to offer quality-of-life amenities were important considerations for all three entities.
Discussion of the potential partnership comes in the wake of SPCC’s being awarded a $40.2 million general-obligation bond approved by voters in November 2016, $6.3 million of which is earmarked for a new community college location. Pharr shared data showing that 46 percent of the 4,216 Union County students who attend community college study at South Piedmont while 41 percent attend Central Piedmont. However, in the westernmost areas of the county, where growth is highest, 61 percent of students drive to CPCC. She said a more accessible campus and the potential for students to obtain seamless and progressive levels of education without leaving the site would increase reach.
Rhett Brown, president of Wingate University, cited a recent report showing that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy will require postsecondary education.
“Part of our strategic plan is to form sustainable collaborations that help meet needs in our community. And workforce development in fast-growing western Union County is certainly one of those needs,” said Brown.
Potential benefits for Waxhaw would include preserving the surrounding land as a park amenity and offering more opportunities for quality-of-life activities.
SPCC, Wingate University and Waxhaw have agreed to name delegates to the feasibility study team by Dec. 15, with the work to be underway by Jan. 8, 2018.