Pisgah House closes for repairs and maintenance ahead of new chancellor

Kathryn Devoe
News Staff Writer

The Pisgah House, referred to as the chancellor’s residence, closes for repairs and maintenance in preparation for the new chancellor. Photo by Bryce Alberghini.

The chancellor’s residence will undergo repairs costing $110,145 to prepare for the arrival of a new chancellor in July, said Robby Russell, board of trustees of member.

These repairs, Russell said, will be paid for from the university’s discretionary funds.

The residence of the chancellor, formally known as the Janice W. Brumit Pisgah House, was built in 2010 at a cost of $2.4 million, according to the most recent UNC Asheville fact book. Discretionary funds are amounts of money not budgeted with a specific purpose in mind, but open for use for needs of the university.

“Currently, we plan to use discretionary funding for the Pisgah House renovation, partly because the state money allocated for capital projects is segregated as repair and renovation funds,” said John Pierce, vice chancellor for administration and finance. “Other general fund state appropriations are generally designated for operational expenditures and the use of these funds for capital purpose is very limited.”

The proposed usage of repair and renovation funds was sent early in the fiscal year to the UNC System Office and the state, Pierce said.

Repairs and maintenance to the Pisgah House started soon after Chancellor Grant’s resignation went into effect. Associate Vice Chancellor of Campus Operations David Todd said this included cleaning upholstery, curtains, carpets and windows, painting and replacing lights, a refrigerator, washer and dryer and upgrading the technology system of the house.

“There’s really no renovation work happening. For the most part it’s maintenance work,” Todd said. “It’s a mixture of things. There’s a back deck that was made out of wood that is showing its age and seeing some rot. So we’re gonna go in and replace that and that’s one of the safety items.”

The Board of Trustees approved an updated budget for the funds allocated to the Pisgah House repairs at their meeting in February. Kennon Briggs, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the money allocated toward the house focuses on maintenance.

“And the money we’re spending is much more about maintenance of the structure rather than necessarily the comfort of the inhabitants,” Briggs said. “So I think that at this point, we are kind of bound to that residence for the future chancellor.”

Todd said there is a difference between renovations and repairs regarding the Pisgah House. Currently, the residency will only undergo repairs.

“When we talk about renovations we talk about renovation, modernization and adaptation versus repair. So a renovation tends to change the use of the space or bring it up,” Todd said. “You might be adding walls or tearing walls down or something like that whereas maintenance is going in and saying we need to paint that wall and clean this floor.”

Replacing lights with new LED lights is an update coming to the Pisgah House, Todd said. Russell detailed the importance of LED lighting.

“(One) item was the LED lighting because of the saving from an energy perspective, but also the longevity of those types of bulbs,” Russell said.

Todd said the Pisgah House functions as a residence and state building.

“When you go look at it, it’s a big structure, but a lot of that is common meeting spaces, where they can hold events and functions. But the actual living quarters are pretty modest,” Todd said.

The repairs will occur throughout the entire building, and since the building is currently offline for updates, Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo does not reside there, Todd said.

“The upstairs is where there’s bedrooms and there’s a little kind of sort of kitchenette,” Todd said. “But if you need a main kitchen you gotta go downstairs and use the main kitchen, which was almost built kind of like a catering kitchen.”

The Pisgah House has a catering kitchen because it was designed to host large events.

“What kind of events we’ve had in that house is every year the chancellor and the provost have hosted students there for various things,” said Shannon Earle, the chief of staff for the office of the chancellor.

Some of the people invited to the Pisgah House were the Order of the Pisgah student inductees, students who received academic achievement awards, the Board of Governors, president of the UNC System Margaret Spellings and all of the UNC chancellors.

The repairs to the Pisgah House will continue while it is offline, Pierce said.

“We’re always fixing this thing and that, but it was a time then when Chancellor Grant announced her leaving that we felt like in this time frame before a new chancellor would come in, it’s an opportunity to do things that maybe we wouldn’t do when somebody was living there,” Pierce said.

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