President presents campus update to students

President Davies discusses academic changes and campus construction.Mary Stringini | The Queens Chronicle

President Davies discusses academic changes and campus construction.

On Oct.28, Queens President Dr. Pamela Davies hosted a campus update presentation in the Crown Room at the Levine Center, where she informed students of new academic ambitions and upcoming and current structural renovations at Queens. Addressing an audience of many SGA members with some other students sprinkled in, Davies began by talking about the Queens 2017 plan, which she said was about half-way implemented.

Academic changes
For the Queens 2017 plan, many of the goals are academic, Davies said. Changes include a possible switch in the “college hour” time from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a definite changing of course credit from three to four hours and a restructuring of the John Belk International Program. The internship and career services area is also evolving with new faculty and a new director, Davies said.

One major academic shakeup that will begin next semester for students is a new general education system. Dr. Jeff Thomas, a professor of biology, has been given the directorial position in this new program.

Starting in the spring semester of 2015, freshmen and sophomores will be able to choose between staying with the old Core program or entering into the new general education system. Juniors’ and seniors’ Core experience will not be affected, said Thomas.

Currently, the Core program is a part of larger general education program at Queens. The structure of that program is what will change, he said.

“As we move forward, the biggest change to the way that you’ll take classes is that instead of taking a single course—four parts of your general education—you’ll be taking things we call learning communities,” said Thomas.

Learning communities help to relate different courses to each other, he says.

“So, you understand better: what is the purpose of your education, why are you actually here,” Thomas said.

Other topics covered during the academic portion of the update included a $2.2 million grant that Queens will use to strengthen its student success initiatives as well as information on Queens’ current endowment and Davies’ hope of growing it in the coming years.

Later on in the meeting, Davies asked the students gathered whether freshman parking should be allowed. She received a passionate—but far from unanimous—response from the students. Some believed parking should not be allowed for freshmen because of the lack of spaces, while others said it was necessary for all students to have a car in a city as big as Charlotte.

Structural renovations

Renovations currently in the works are the the changes of Belk Chapel—which will house the Pamela Davies Center for Faith and Outreach—and Walker Hall. Walker Hall will house the Knight School of Communication as well as an area for “signature student experiences,” including the Center for International Education and the internship office. Davies said  that it will also possibly house the nursing faculty and students. The renovation of Walker Hall will cost around $6 million, she said, adding that only $1.5 million has been raised so far.

Davies references an artist's rendering of the Marion Diehl Sports Complex, which will eventually house resurfaced playing fields and new tennis courts.Mary Stringini | The Queens Chronicle

Davies references an artist’s rendering of the Marion Diehl Sports Complex, which will eventually house resurfaced playing fields and new tennis courts.

The E.H. Little Fine Arts Building will also be renovated, but it is part of a more long-term plan, Davies said. The tennis centers at the Marion Diehl Sports Complex is still in the fundraising stage, Davies said.

The construction of Belk Chapel has not been started because of a legal spat between Queens and the Myers Park Homeowners Association (MPHA), which caused the MPHA to sue the City of Charlotte. The neighbors sued for a failure to conduct one part of the process necessary for passing a text amendment, which would have allowed Queens—and other institutions—to construct more buildings on their property.

This amendment stated that institutions no longer needed to count vertical parking structures as space against the maximum amount of buildings they are allowed to have on their parcel of land. It was created in an effort to discourage many of the sprawling parking lots of Charlotte, Davies said.

This amendment would have allowed Queens to complete more renovations. However, some neighbors did not want Queens to become denser, so the lawsuit resulted, she said.

“It went throughout several courts … that did not find with the neighbors,” she said, “but the final court did find that the city had not followed the process exactly.”

The amendment was therefore ruled invalid, halting all new construction projects that add any sort of square footage to the space on Queens campus, Davies said. Walker Hall, for example, can still be renovated, Davies said, because the amount of square footage of Walker will not change.

The city is redoing the process to hopefully repass this amendment, Davies said. However, Queens is now negotiating with the neighbors, in the hopes of resolving this conflict before the amendment goes back to the city council in January.

Even though Queens is currently embroiled in this conflict, the neighbors and Queens have a great relationship, said Dr. John Downey, dean of students.

“It’s just that they’re concerned, and I think rightly so, about the growth that’s happening around Myers Park,” he said. “And quite frankly, there’s no bigger target and no easier target than Queens.”

“But they love our students, they love our campus, their dogs seem to like our lawns.”

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.