The Millennial Campus Act enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2000 authorized the creation of a Millennial Campus by certain University of North Carolina system campuses, including WCU.
The Millennial Initiative at WCU is unique, however, because the university chose not to develop a specific Millennial Campus, but instead sought and received approval from the UNC Board of Governors for parts of the overall campus of more than 600 acres to be designated Millennial with identified academic "neighborhoods of interest."
The February 18, 2005 announcement of the Millennial Initiative at WCU was a major step in the university’s on-going commitment to a powerful combination of academic excellence and economic development in Western North Carolina. The initiative is designed both to promote exciting new educational opportunities for faculty and students and to expand the university’s partnership opportunities with the private sector. It strengthens Chancellor Bardo’s vision of the university as an educational community committed to growth and prosperity throughout the region.
Above: Community members mingle at the February 18, 2005 announcement event.
Formal state approval for WCU’s Millennial Initiative, originally called a Cornerstone Campus, came in 2000 with Senate Bill 586. It followed legislation in 1987 establishing NC State’s Centennial Campus and in 1999, UNC Chapel Hill’s Horace Williams Campus, now called Carolina North. The new legislation, when it passed in July 2000 as Session Law 2000-177, authorized a Millennial Campus at WCU and at member campuses of the University of North Carolina system.
WCU immediately began the process of acquiring two parcels of land totaling approximately 344 acres adjacent to the Cullowhee campus (see aerial map below). During negotiations for the land, WCU received a federal grant of $300,000 to develop business and marketing plans as well as a master plan for the Millennial Initiative. In December 2004, the land acquisition was completed for a total cost of $2.87 million in state funds.
Above: Aerial map of the Millennial Initiative land acquisition.
The university worked with Eva Klein and Associates, a consulting firm nationally recognized for its work in planning and developing university-related research and technology parks. The firm held a series of meetings on campus to involve faculty and staff in the planning process and organized a conference at WCU to explore ideas with regional leaders. The result of those discussions was a series of recommendations which helped to shape the focus of the Millennial Initiative.