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NC Wesleyan wants to manage tech training center

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NASHVILLE — North Carolina Wesleyan College is proposing to provide “more robust educational opportunities” by taking over the management of the Gateway Technology Training Center, now run by an independent nonprofit board on Wesleyan’s Rocky Mount campus.

Wesleyan’s new president, Evan Duff, last week briefed the Nash County Board of Commissioners on the college’s proposal, which is still under negotiation with the center’s board.

The Gateway Technology Center was built about 12 years ago through about $1.3 million in grants and county commitments. Under the Carolinas Gateway Partnership’s leadership, the center’s mission is to provide technology-oriented educational opportunities for residents of Nash and Edgecombe counties and northeastern North Carolina.

The center now works in a collaborative partnership with Wesleyan, N.C. State University and East Carolina University to provide a variety of technology-related courses and programs on-site and through distance learning.

Wesleyan, which has 2,000 students altogether, donated the land for the center and owns the building, now leased for 50 years to the Gateway Technology Center for $1 per year. The seven-person GTC board is chaired by Norris Tolson, president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership..

Duff said the college is proposing to take over the center’s active management to improve its efficiency, expand its offerings and save some costs.

Under the proposal Duff presented, Wesleyan “will incorporate additional technology-based academic programming into the center that will enhance existing efforts to achieve the center’s mission. College personnel will assume daily operation and maintenance of the facility, thereby relieving the current GTC, Inc. leadership of that burden and creating operational efficiencies.”

“We intend to fully utilize the facility,” Duff told commissioners. “We feel we could more effectively manage the facility and take over the headache away from the current GTC board.”

In its formal proposal, Wesleyan is offering to add a computer information systems degree program, a logistics and supply chain management degree program, a Master of Business Administration program and a registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in nursing degree program. The college also proposes to expand its current entrepreneurship programs and enhance adult and professional studies.

Tolson voiced his support for Wesleyan’s proposal “if we can make it reasonable.” He praised the programs currently being offered in the center and said as many as 3,000 students “go through that place during the summer.”

“Dr. Duff and I are working out the details of the transition,” Tolson said. “We haven’t gotten there yet, but we are close. We do support the request.”

The request, once negotiated, must by approved by the current GTC board. Tolson said he would call a meeting “sometime soon as we work out the details.”

Commissioners were assured the county will continue to be represented on the new oversight board and took no official position on the proposal.