Admissions headed to ‘new’ location with renovations, construction

It’s all about making a good first impression.

As such, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Western Carolina University will be in a different ― but not altogether new ― location beginning in October, with a return to the H.F. Robinson Building.

Revamped to the point of being completely new, the first floor of Robinson is expected to be operational for undergraduate admissions and recruitment functions following the fall break.

University architect Javier Torres surveys ongoing construction on the first floor of H.F. Robinson Building.

Currently, the Admissions Office is located in the Cordelia Camp Building, where it has been since 2008, when staff was relocated from the Robinson Building, citing the need to accommodate demands on space.

“The amenities, decor and layout, combined with a prominent location near the university entrance, will make this an ideal first impression for visitors and working environment for staff,” said Javier Torres, WCU architect. “I think this will be especially conducive for prospective students and their families.”

When the relocation is complete, visitors who enter through the main first-floor entrance will be greeted with a “Western Carolina University” logo on a purple wall. Parking for guests and future Catamounts will be in the existing side lot adjacent to the entrance.

“What the staff and I are most looking forward to is a more welcoming environment to greet our guests as they begin to experience WCU,” said Mike Langford, the university’s director of undergraduate admissions. “The new space will have a more up-to-date feel while celebrating the richness of the natural landscape and cultural heritage that makes WCU unique among our competitors. We will greet families in the main lobby, which has an open reception area with benches and couches. We can meet in our collaboration/family meeting rooms where we can work in small groups on admission issues or speak with families so we don’t have to bring them back to our offices.

Image courtesy of Sanders Pace Architecture.

“Most importantly, we have better presentation space to start the campus tour experience before they begin our walking tour of campus,” he said.

Construction began in January. The former auditorium has been converted to a conference space, while additional family conference rooms for smaller group consultation are nearby. Other infrastructure work is nearing completion, with fixture installation and moving new furniture expected in coming weeks.

Phil Cauley, assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate enrollment, said the first-floor space will accommodate the needs of a 21st-century admissions operation, taking into consideration both current necessities as well as probable future expansion as WCU continues to experience heightened interest.

“As the old adage goes, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression,’” and a visit to the Office of Admissions is often a prospective student’s first visit and establishes the tone for the overall impression,” Cauley said.