Millennial Vision

Western Carolina University's Millennial Initiative site is a 344-acre section of the university's main campus in Cullowhee, North Carolina that carries a special designation allowing the university to join with education, industry, government, healthcare and other partners to benefit innovation and development in the region. The Millennial Initiative provides a space for university faculty and students, private firms, nonprofits, and government agencies to work together in applied research and practice that benefits the western North Carolina region.

The Millennial Initiative combines academic excellence and regional economic development that provides not only services and job opportunities for the people of the region, but also:

  • Promotes exciting new educational opportunities for students and faculty
  • Expands the university’s partnership opportunities with the private sector

Millennial Initiative Vision

The vision for the Millennial Initiative aligns with WCU's vision and mission as an institution:

  • Western Carolina University is nationally recognized as actively engaged in the economic health of the region. It will lead and support others in strategies to create a prosperous future for the people it serves.
  • Via selective internal program investments, systematic partnership outreach and thoughtful deployment of capital assets, WCU seeks to nurture an ever-expanding economy and community of knowledge in Western North Carolina.
  • In adopting new roles to support economic growth, WCU continues to embrace fully its roles in strengthening intellectual inquiry, community, social institutions, culture and the arts.

History of the Millennial Initiative

Legislative Approval

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.

Land Acquisition

After legislative approval in 2000, 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.


The Millennial Initiative at WCU was formally announced in February of 2005, which 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. 

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