Local News

Trustees Approve NCCU Expansion Plan

Posted April 23, 2008 10:51 a.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2008 5:54 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina Central University's Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to expand the school's campus to accommodate an increasing student population.

The move was called hasty by some residents who oppose the plan to add 25 acres to the Durham campus.

"There was absolutely no discussion," Larry Hester said. "It was a unanimous vote, which meant that anything we did was not going to make a difference."

About 8,300 students are enrolled for the academic year at NCCU. The university expects that number to increase by more than 5,000 by 2017.

The plan will be implemented in phases over the next 10 years and will add more than two dozen buildings, including on-campus housing, academic buildings and an athletic complex.

It also requires the university must buy more than 100 private properties surrounding the northern part of campus, and that's why some residents are opposed.

Some say they don't want to leave their homes; others think the expansion will hurt historic neighborhoods. They want the university to consider less-populated areas that are not adjacent to campus.

"I'm not happy with what North Carolina Central is doing," resident Heshima Du Ewa said Wednesday. "You can find other places to build."

The university delayed voting on the plan in February and held four public hearings on the matter.

NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms said that ultimately, the decision was in the best interest of students and to allow the university grow.

"We're not interested in acquiring property just for the sake of acquiring property – only those properties needed to enable us to fulfill our mission," he said.

The university will begin meeting with architects to start the first phase of expansion. It must also formally request funding from the General Assembly to acquire land.

Because NCCU is a state-run institution, the state will negotiate deals with the 136 homeowners, and if needed, invoke eminent domain.

Opponents say they will continue fighting the expansion.

"We will be pursuing this with the Board of Governors, every elected official that we can rally," said Carolyn Greenboone, whose great-grandfather, James Shepard, founded the school. "And we will seek further discussion on this matter, even though you hastily rushed into a vote."