App State announces future Hickory campus

Concept+art+showing+what+the+Corning+Optical+Communications+Building+will+look+like+after+it+has+been+renovated.+

Courtesy of Jim Fleri

Concept art showing what the Corning Optical Communications Building will look like after it has been renovated.

Ethan Hunt, Associate News Editor

App State students will soon be able to attend in-person classes outside of Boone.

Chancellor Sheri Everts announced App State’s future campus in Hickory Friday. The university purchased the former Corning Optical Communications Building, located at 800 17th St. NW, as well as 15.7 acres directly adjacent to the building. The building and surrounding land is the newest addition to App State’s campus and will serve students in the Morganton, Hickory and Lenoir areas. 

App State purchased the 225,800 square foot building for $1,017,293.64, from the endowment fund, a fund composed of money from donations and other non-tuition sources, according to Anna Oakes, media relations specialist. The university has yet to announce when renovations to the property will begin, but Everts said sustainability will be a component of the project. 

Hickory Mayor Hank Guess presented Chancellor Sheri Everts with a key to the city at the announcement event Friday. (Courtesy of Chase Reynolds)

“As we renovate the building, we will also perform a sustainability audit to assess energy and efficiency needs, as well as opportunities to advance the university’s sustainability mission,” Everts said at the event Friday. 

According to an App State press release, the university chose the location because it will increase the number of rural and first generation students who attend App State. The possibility for growth in Boone is also “limited,” and the Hickory campus will allow App State to continue to expand, Oakes said. 

“For those who want an App State education but choose to live and work in the Hickory area; for those who may have begun but not completed their undergraduate degrees — App State is here for you,” Everts said. 

The building is located near Highway 321 and is less than two miles away from the Hickory Regional Airport and is close to downtown Hickory as well as two regional hospitals.

“This location, as has already been said, is perfectly situated here in the center of the Hickory region on U.S. Highway 321, which is a major corridor connecting Charlotte to Hickory and the High Country,” said Hank Guess, Hickory mayor. 

The new campus will also further the goals of the Aspire Appalachian Co-Admission program, which provides community college students guaranteed admission to App State, according to the  release. 

“For those who may have never thought a college education could be a possibility, App State is here, with a top-quality public education that can lead to a brighter future,” Everts said. 

According to the press release, the new campus will create jobs in Hickory and the surrounding area. 

“Education plus economic development are the fundamental drivers in opportunity in today’s marketplace. They’re quickly becoming synonymous. If you don’t have an educational opportunity for people, you certainly won’t have economic development,” said Scott Millar, president of Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. 

The building is larger than any on App State’s main campus, including Leon Levine Hall

“We look forward to having everyone back soon for a building tour, announcing the specific programs that will be offered in this building and sharing a timeline for opening the doors to the renovated space,” Everts said.