The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has approved a new name for Western Carolina University’s former Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, one that better reflects the growth of engineering education programs serving Western North Carolina.

The board authorized modification of the unit’s name to the College of Engineering and Technology during its meeting Friday, May 27, in Chapel Hill.

Jeffrey L. Ray

Jeffrey L. Ray

“The change to include engineering in the title of the college allows regional and state economic development offices to emphasize the importance placed on the creation and growth of engineering programs at WCU,” said Jeffrey Ray, dean of the newly rechristened College of Engineering and Technology.

“It may seem subtle, but the change of name is important to the economy of Western North Carolina,” Ray said. “When advanced manufacturers are looking for a potential site for the location or relocation of a facility, one of the criteria they look at is an engineering program within a 50-mile radius. Our new name emphasizes the importance of engineering to industry partners as well as to prospective students seeking careers in this field.”

The change also brings the structure of the former Kimmel School into alignment with the organizational structure of the six other academic colleges at WCU, which consist of either “departments” or “schools” contained within “colleges.” After the Board of Governors’ action, the old Department of Construction Management is now the Kimmel School of Construction Management, while the Department of Engineering and Technology is the School of Engineering and Technology.

Original plans called for the creation of the Kimmel School of Construction Management, Engineering and Technology in recognition of a donor’s pledge, but “engineering” was dropped from the unit’s name at the time of implementation because there were no engineering programs housed solely within the school then, Ray said. Thus, the name became the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology.

Maintaining the affiliation of the “Kimmel” name with the School of Construction Management is designed to honor the intentions of the gift agreement that led to the original naming of the academic unit following the 2005 announcement of substantial financial support from Asheville-based Kimmel & Associates, a leading executive management search firm specializing in the construction industry.

At that time, WCU had a joint bachelor’s degree program in electrical engineering, the BSEE, offered with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and also provided programs in engineering technology. In 2012, the UNC Board of Governors authorized WCU to begin offering the bachelor of science degree in engineering as a stand-alone program, spinning off from the joint BSEE offered with UNC Charlotte.

The BSE program at WCU now has three concentrations – mechanical, manufacturing and electric power.

In 2013, with the support of state Sen. Tom Apodaca, the General Assembly approved expansion of WCU’s undergraduate engineering programs to the university’s instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville, a move designed to help meet the needs of business and industry in the fast-growing Interstate 26 corridor of Buncombe and Henderson counties. Western Carolina began providing engineering instruction at Biltmore Park in 2014.

“The past several years have seen significant growth in engineering programs at WCU. Last fall, the Kimmel School’s enrollment increased to 777 students, with the majority of those students – 571 to be exact – enrolled in engineering and technology courses,” Ray said.

“The growth of advanced manufacturing in the Asheville-Hendersonville corridor and in the Western North Carolina region has spurred a significant increase in the demand for engineering and technology expertise and employees,” he said. “Western Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology is poised to continue to help meet that demand.”

For more information about programs offered by WCU’s College of Engineering and Technology, visit the website kimmel.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7368.