BOONE — After breaking ground in 2017 and opening in early 2020, the new Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute student services center on the Watauga campus had its ribbon cutting ceremony March 22.
Due to bad weather and COVID-19 in the past, this was the third — and successful — attempt at officially opening the center.
The 15,000-square-foot building has consolidated many student services into one place. The services now available in the building include academic support, admissions, advising, bookstore, business office, counseling, financial aid, a library, a testing center and the writing center.
The building was completed in 2019 and opened to students in early 2020, but was limited once COVID-19 hit three months later.
“To finally be able to show the community this facility is a monumental day for us,” said CCC&TI President Mark Poarch. “We certainly look forward to doing an in-person, open house kind of event where people can come and walk through the building and see it themselves and experience the full building.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony kicked off with a live streamed tour of the building that was hosted by David Jackson, president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I don’t think the pictures do it justice in terms of the view and the surroundings of the campus,” Poarch said. “It’s just a gorgeous facility. We just look forward to having the community come here in person and experience it.”
The new student services building features a library that in non-COVID-19 times is open to the public through a community patron status.
The main hall of the student services center features the testing center that, among others, does licensure tests, admissions tests and high school equivalency tests. Across the hall is the academic advising, and the financial aid and counseling offices.
Jackson quipped during the tour that a person can come take any tests needed, get the financial aid taken care of and get any counseling or advice taken care of all in one hallway.
The biggest attraction of the new center for Poarch is the student center lounge area.
“We didn’t have that on this campus prior to this facility being built,” Poarch said. “What we would see is that students were waiting before class, after class or between class sitting on a bench in a hallway or sitting on a floor somewhere eating lunch or studying. Now they have a place to go and a place to hang out together. That creates a different kind of atmosphere on this campus that’s really been lacking in years past.”
The student lounge is a large open spaced room that has many windows featuring a view of Grandfather Mountain. Outside of the lounge is a porch with rocking chairs that also overlooks Grandfather Mountain as well as a good view of the sunset.
The lounge is also a space that community organizations could potentially use for meetings or events.
Jackson said once word gets out about this space, he thinks it will be very popular among the community.
“This kind of facility makes this campus here in Watauga County that much more marketable for students, and hopefully that gets more students here on this campus enrolled in programs that will benefit the overall economic picture,” Jackson said. “It was a strategically built building and it shows that.”
A video of the tour can be found on the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BooneAreaChamber/videos/452252965986902.