Growing Pains: UNCA Evolves to Meet Changing Demands

By Phillip Wyatt, Arts and Features Staff Writer
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Students will see a few more Frisbees flying across the Quad this fall.
The university welcomed its largest enrollment ever this semester, with 3,700 students from 37 states and 23 countries. Many students chose to live on campus- 763 new and 664 returning.
“The increase in demand for on-campus housing has been due to the number of current students wanting to live on campus and the large number of incoming students as freshmen and transfers,” said Vollie Barnwell, director of housing and student life operations.
To accommodate the steady increase in enrollment over the past few years, UNC Asheville constructed Overlook Hall, the university’s seventh residence hall, in 2012. Housing around 300 students, Overlook allows at least 40 percent of students to live on campus, according to university data.
“There have already been conversations about what our next phase of on-campus housing would look like,” Barnwell said.
Barnwell said an outside company recently completed a market study to research and verify the increased demand of student housing, and decide what style of housing should be considered for the university’s next construction phase.
Some students say they are finding it difficult to secure parking on campus.
Eric Boyce, assistant vice chancellor for public safety, said a total of 2,629 parking spots are available on campus for students, faculty and staff, visitors and service vehicles, as well as spaces for 30-minute parking and motorcycles.
During the 2014-2015 school year, 4,787 parking passes were issued, Boyce said.
“Our campus definitely has parking issues,” said Madison Postlewaite, psychology student. “I take morning classes specifically so I don’t have to deal with parking issues.”
Although her home is a four-minute drive from campus, Postlewaite said she allots 15-20 minutes to find parking.
“I constantly have trouble finding a parking spot. I’ve been late for class even when I arrive with plenty of time,” said Elisa Sullivan, new media student. “It’s my biggest concern with UNCA right now. Since I started in 2010, they haven’t made any new parking structures or areas where students can park.”
Sullivan resorts to following students to their vehicles in order to secure a parking spot.
If students cannot find parking on campus, Boyce suggests parking at the Health Services building at 118 W.T. Weaver Blvd. and catching a ride to central campus via the university’s shuttle system, which services the lot every 12 minutes.
Boyce said he does not believe a parking dilemma exists on campus, but planning is underway for the development of more parking on campus.
“Parking is one of the factors to consider in the university’s growth and is part of the master planning process,” Boyce said.
The UNCA campus is also experiencing an increase in eco-friendly and sustainable improvements in building infrastructure and development. Rhoades Hall, one of the first buildings constructed on campus in 1961, received a complete makeover in 2012, according to UNCA’s building timeline
A new plumbing system was installed to salvage water and a geothermal heat pump was buried in the campus quad to provide hot water to the facility.
Energy-efficient windows, LED lighting fixtures and a gypsum interior wall covering aid were installed, along with an enthalpy wheel for energy recovery and a minimal amount of visible HVAC equipment.
“We have been very intentional during major renovations or construction of new building to follow best practices as they relate to sustainability and energy efficiency,” said director of campus operations David Todd.
These enhancements generated a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council this year for Rhoades Hall, evidence of the university’s strides towards a more green and eco-friendly campus.
LEED certification is the most widely used green building ratings system in the world, accrediting 1.85 million square feet of construction space every day, according to the LEED website.
Sustainability efforts in renovation are extending to other structures on campus. A 24-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, including 112 panels, was installed on Overlook Hall in 2014 to supply usable solar power to the residence hall, Todd said. Overlook is also equipped with a geothermal well for heating water.
“UNC Asheville continues to have the lowest energy usage per square foot of any of the UNC System schools,” Todd said.
The university’s green efforts have not gone unnoticed by the student body, Sullivan said.
“It’s great the college is implementing these environmentally friendly additions to do whatever is possible to use less nonrenewable resources and help our environment,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said she would like to see future renovations to Owen Hall, where frequently broken air conditioners create a humid studio space for art students during hotter days.
“Students are doing manual labor and intensive work for projects,” Sullivan said. “I’m taking classes in a packed room full of students and it’s 90 degrees outside and the AC unit is broken for an entire week.”
The university is considering renovations to Highsmith Student Union in the future. Todd said updates to Owen Hall are also planned, contingent on the passing of a state bond program by legislature and voters.
A celebration for Rhoades Hall’s LEED Gold certification will be held in the TD Bank Atrium in Rhoades Monday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and the public are encouraged to attend.