Centennial Campus was named in honor of NC State’s 100th anniversary, which occurred in 1987. It is located south of the original campus (now North Campus). Differing from traditional campuses, Centennial plays host to university, industry, and government partners. It is home to academic bodies like the College of Engineering, the Veterinary Medical Campus, and the Wilson College of Textiles, but also to LexisNexis, an office of the National Weather Service, and Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School. The campus also has housing, a golf course, a state-of-the-art library, and a hotel and conference center.
Plans for Centennial Campus began in the early 1980s at NC State. There was a desperate need for more space to accommodate a growing student population which had surpassed 20,000 for the first time. To address this need, Bruce Poulton, who became chancellor in 1982, spearheaded plans to create a new campus and in 1984 Governor Hunt (an NC State graduate) transferred 385 acres to NC State for a new campus. This was followed by a second grant in 1985 by Governor James. G. Martin of another 450 acres. The governors transferred this land from Dorthea Dix Hospital, originally known as the Asylum for the Insane of North Carolina to the college in order to enhance the level of education and economic opportunity in North Carolina, and for this reason Centennial Campus is often considered NC State’s second land-grant. Centennial Campus grew through additional grants and purchases to eventually total over 1,000 acres.
In 1988, NC State bought 76 acres from the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. After negotiating over the price, the News & Observer reported the Diocese agreed to sell the land for $7.5 million, pending approval from the Pope. The land had once been the site for the Nazareth Catholic Orphanage. The orphanage had a small graveyard and there is some uncertainty about where or whether the graves were moved.
In September of 1985, Chancellor Bruce Poulton created the University Planning committee. They reached out to see what buildings and programs the University community wanted on Centennial Campus and received 83 proposals. Many departments had a strong desire to build competitive graduate research facilities. The Carley Capital Group was hired as the master developers and along with the University Planning committee created the master plan.
Two design principles for Centennial Campus were respecting the land and cluster development. This means designs followed the natural topography of the land and were ecologically sound. Cluster development means that buildings were set up in “neighborhoods” with doors facing central courtyards and connected by walking paths.
According to Paige Meszaros’s “The History of North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus,” there was no shortage of opposition. Some questioned the legality of the land transfer, while others resented the land being taken from the then still operational Dix Hospital. There was even opposition from faculty. Denis Wood, a design professor, wrote an unfavorable letter to the editor about Centennial Campus. In return, Chancellor Poulton informed Dr. Wood that by signing the unfavorable comments with his official NC State title, he had violated the Faculty Rights and Responsibilities section of the University of North Carolina Code.
Traffic was another controversial issue. The contention intensified over plans to build a new road, Century Boulevard. There was an erroneous assumption that Century Boulevard was NC State’s project and Chancellor Poulton had to respond to letters from upset residents and alumni, informing them the road was the city of Raleigh’s project. The city council created alternative proposals and in 1995 construction began on Centennial Parkway. From the beginning travel between the two campuses occurred by bus, car, bike, and foot, but in the 1990s the University seriously considered building a monorail. This idea was ultimately shelved due to high cost.
In May 1987, construction began on the College of Textiles complex. In an interview Bob Barnhardt, then Dean of the College of Textiles, remembered how the move was initially resisted by faculty who feared being isolated and worried about scheduling classes on a separate campus. On his first day they presented him with a signed paper stating they had voted unanimously not to move. However, in 1991 textiles became the first college to move to Centennial Campus.
As construction began in the late 80s and early 90s, the University was uncertain if it would be successful attracting businesses. The land is public and so is owned by the people of North Carolina. This means NC State can only lease the land to businesses, not sell. Claude McKinney, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for the Development of Centennial Campus, remembered in an interview how this caused them to lose some partnerships, “You had a number of people, Cotton, Inc. being one—they just wanted to own the land. If they were going to build a building on it, they wanted to own it first. And we said, “But you can’t do that.’”
In 1991 ABB became the first major corporate partner. Frank Hart, provost under Chancellor Monteith, remembered in an interview that ABB was attracted by NC State’s access to technology. NC State works with all its partners to create beneficial partnerships. All Centennial Campus partners must collaborate in some way with NC State, and in addition to the intellectual resources on campus, partners also have access to certain University amenities like the libraries and can get discounts on events such as football.
In the late 90s, the first multi-tenant buildings on Centennial opened and were soon full. Jaine Place, the Partnership Development Specialist, explained in an interview that the early days of Centennial Campus aligned with the dot-com bubble and they had a constant stream of interested business partners. By 2018, Centennial Campus could boast of over 75 on-campus partners including IBM and the National Security Agency. In his 2018 “Centennial Campus Update,” Chancellor Randy Woodson wrote, “These partnerships solve complex global challenges, provide real-world opportunities to our students and faculty, and create jobs and investment for NC and beyond.”
Original Source References
Barnhardt, Bob. “Interview with Bob Barnhardt.” Interview by Chad Morgan. Centennial Campus Oral Histories, MC 00066, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/centennialcampus/oral_history/scrc_barnhardt.html.
“Centennial Campus” NC State University. Accessed October 9, 2020.
Graziano, Carl. “City study backs Century Boulevard construction.” News & Observer, (Raleigh, NC), May 20, 1987. Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/655734362.
Hart, Frank. Interview with Creative Services. Office of Public Affairs, Creative Services Records, 1889-2014, UA014.015, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/centennialcampus/eprofiles.html.
Hunt, James. “Governor Jim Hunt Interview.” Interview with Creative Services. Office of Public Affairs, Creative Services Records, 1889-2014, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. UA014.015. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua014_015-036-cn0137-K505.
Joseph, Toni. “Alternative plans to Century Boulevard offered.” News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), September 9, 1987. Newspapers.com.
Litt, Steven. “Promising design plan presents challenge for Centennial Campus.” News & Observer, (Raleigh, NC), December 30, 1987. Newspapers.com. Accessed October 13, 2020. https://www.newspapers.com/image/655888547.
Litt, Steven. “Road paved with good intentions?” News & Observer, (Raleigh, NC), June 7, 1987.Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/655733896/?terms=century%20boulevard&match=1.
McKinney, Claude. “Interview with Claude McKinney.” Interview with Creative Services. Office of Public Affairs, Creative Services Records, 1889-2014, UA014.015, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua014_015-036-cn0134-K499.
North Carolina State University, Office of the Chancellor, Bruce Robert Poulton Records, UA 002.001.006, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/findingaids/ua002_001_006/access.
North Carolina State University, Office of Finance and Administration, Centennial Campus Records, UA 003.010, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/findingaids/ua003_010/access.
Place, Jaine. “Jaine Place oral history interview.” Interview by Chad Morgan. Centennial Campus Oral Histories, MC 00066, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/mc00066-001-bx0001-005-001.
Poulton, Bruce. Interview with Creative Services. Office of Public Affairs, Creative Services Records, 1889-2014, UA014.015,NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/centennialcampus/eprofiles.html.
Technician (Raleigh, N.C.) (LH1 .N6 T4), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries.
Worsley, George. “NCSU Creative Services Centennial Campus Interviews — Worsley.” Interview with Creative Services. Office of Public Affairs, Creative Services Records, 1889-2014, UA014.015, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua014_015-036-cn0137-K502.
Sykes, Debbi. “Catholics to sell land to NCSU.” News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), May 26, 1988. Newspapers.com. Accessed October 13, 2020.
Albert N. Link, John T. Scott, The economics of university research parks, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 23, Issue 4, Winter 2007, Pages 661–674, https://doi-org.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/10.1093/oxrep/grm030.
Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. “Cathedral campus transformation continues; land sale transacted in conjunction with Pullen Road project.” April 25, 2018. https://dioceseofraleigh.org/news/cathedral-campus-transformation-continues-land-sale-transacted-conjunction-pullen-road-project.
“Enrollment History – NC State 1889-Present.” NC State University. Accessed October 12, 2020. https://oirp.ncsu.edu/students/enrollment/headcount-enrollment/headcount-archives_reports_resources/enrollment-history/enrollment-history-nc-state-1889-present/.
High, Morgan. “Inside ABB and NC State’s Decadeslong Partnership.” NC State University, September 22, 2020. https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/09/abb-nc-state-partnership/.
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. “The Nazareth Property.” Accessed October 12, 2020. https://www.raleighcathedral.org/content.cfm?id=665.
Meszaros, Paige. “The History of North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus.” Centennial Documentation Project. NCSU Libraries. Special Collections Research Center. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/centennialcampus/ehistory.html
NC State Facilities. “Campus History: The Physical Development of NC State University.” Accessed October 12, 2020. https://facilities.ofa.ncsu.edu/about-us/campus-history/.
NC State University. “Centennial Campus Celebrating 30 Years of Innovation.”
NC State University. “Centennial Campus Update.” March 2, 2018. https://leadership.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-3-2-BOV-Centennial-Update-FINAL.pdf.
NC State University Libraries. “Historical State Timelines”. Accessed October 10, 2020.
Noble, David F.. America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism (Galaxy Books). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 1979.
RTI International Center for Technology Applications, “Intellectual Property and Technology Commercialization in North Dakota.” July 7, 2006. https://www.legis.nd.gov/files/resource/committee-memorandum/ec071906appendixh1.pdf
Shaffer, Josh. “They died at a Raleigh orphanage, but no one knows exactly where they are now.” News & Observer, (Raleigh, NC), Updated November 10, 2017. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/josh-shaffer/article183205001.html.
Tauss, Leigh, “Raleigh Finally Pays Due to Indigenous People in a Dix Park Ceremony.” Indy Week (Raleigh, NC), August 5, 2020. https://indyweek.com/news/wake/dix-park-native-land-acknowledgment/.