Carson-Newman partners with Kingsport higher ed center

Rick Wagner • Jun 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Other partners in the Kingsport Center for Higher Education are Northeast State, UT, King College and LMU.

KINGSPORT — Carson-Newman College has become the latest school to join the consortium for the Kingsport Center for Higher Education.

It has committed to providing $50,000 a year to the center’s operation for three years, according to Mayor Dennis Phillips and Assistant City Manager for Development Jeff Fleming.

The partnership, confirmed after a meeting Monday between city officials and those of the Jefferson City-based, Baptist-affiliated school, ensures that C-N will receive space in the first-floor main entrance of the center slated to open in August 2009 at the corner of Clay and Market streets.

C-N joins Northeast State Technical Community College, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Presbyterian-affiliated King College in Bristol, Tenn., and Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate in the financial commitment to join the consortium. Northeast State has committed $200,000 over three years to the project.

“We haven’t got any Spandex on these things,” Alderman Ken Marsh said of the five schools committed to five spaces in the higher ed center.

However, Phillips said starting out with five schools filling the five available spaces on the ground floor is probably enough for the time being, although he said the center would welcome Tusculum College of Greeneville, Milligan College near Elizabethton and Emory & Henry in Emory, Va. — all private religious-affiliated schools — and others to the center.

City officials also have talked with Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise about the center.

Northeast State will oversee operation of the center and provide the first two years of college instruction for four-year degree programs to be offered by the other schools.

The higher ed center will be part of an academic village downtown including the under-construction Regional Center for Health Professions at Kingsport, formerly called the Allied Health Building, which consolidates all Northeast State’s health offerings plus King College nursing classes in Kingsport.

The academic village also includes the Regional Center for Applied Technology, which opened in 2002. The pending Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technology — temporarily located in part of the old Quebecor World building — is also to be part of the downtown academic village.

Those centers are or will be operated by Northeast State.

“There is a common thread of health care, even in this (higher education) building,” Fleming said during a presentation at a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session Monday afternoon.

Fleming said most of the offerings concentrate on health care and some teaching degrees, although he said discussion is still occurring on possible engineering offerings by UT.

Phillips said East Tennessee State University — based in Johnson City with a satellite campus in the Allandale area of the Hawkins County portion of Kingsport — has the right to challenge any four-year degree offerings at the higher ed center by UT or any other state institution if ETSU offers the degree or wants to offer it. ETSU, which chose not to participate in the higher ed center, does not offer an engineering degree but does offer a construction technology degree.

However, Phillips said ETSU has no ability to protest degrees offered by the private four-year schools that make up the rest of the consortium.

Fleming said the higher ed construction project is moving along as planned and remains with a bottom-line price of $12.99 million. The 54,450-square-foot building is expected to cost nearly $10 million, with the rest going for property acquisition and incidental expenses.

The city is bearing all the expense of constructing the higher ed center except for a $1.5 million federal grant that will help offset those costs. The grant announced Friday will be provided by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The center will be built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient construction.

City Manager John Campbell said the building already was planned to be a “green” building, but receipt of the grant means the city must document the green LEED aspects of the construction.

Groundbreaking on the facility is slated for next month, with construction to run from July 1 of this year through July 31 of next year.

The structure will include a 200-seat auditorium, two lecture halls and classrooms on the first level, as well as the main entrance with space for the colleges.

The second floor will be mostly classrooms, while the third will have chemistry, biology and physics labs, as well as a media center, smaller study spaces and a terrace overlooking Clay and Market streets.

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