“We think it’s important to go where the students are,” said Dr. Kevan Frazier.
Executive director of Western Carolina University at Biltmore Park, Frazier oversees dozens of programs and hundreds of students at the campus just south of Asheville. With the main campus in Cullowhee (an hour or so west of Asheville), the Biltmore Park location has remained a vital direct connection of undergraduate and graduate education for Asheville, Hendersonville, and surrounding communities.
“Most of our students are already working professionals. We look at finding ways to make higher education something of a convenience to fit into their lives.” —Dr. Kevan Frazier
“Biltmore Park is very much part of WCU’s community-based outreach,” Frazier said. “We’re the principal provider of graduate education in Western North Carolina, and in addition to those graduate programs in Cullowhee, we’ve been able to build on that at Biltmore Park, cultivating a number of our own programs.”
The average age for Biltmore Park students is 32, making evident the need for flexible instruction as people continue their daily lives. For them, education needs to be something that works with their schedule and does not conflict with it.
“Most of our students are already working professionals,” Frazier said. “And they’re looking to advance their degrees with graduate work. We look at finding ways to make higher education something of a convenience to fit into their lives.”
With programs ranging from nursing and business to engineering and education, the Biltmore Park campus has become an academic beacon within Buncombe County. And with WCU hovering around 11,000 students, the growth of the satellite campus has been noticeable in recent years.
“For us, and for Western North Carolina, there are two key growth groups: baby boomers and millennials, which are two demographics we’re serving to what their education needs are,” Frazier said. “Folks also aren’t being drawn away to other metro areas because they’re able to get the education they desire right here in their backyard.”
As a native Ashevillian, Frazier is endlessly amazed by how much his city has changed, and all for the better.
“The Asheville I grew up in was radically different than what it is today,” he said. “Back then, downtown was empty and all but collapsed. And in the last 35 years, we’ve seen so much smart growth, from manufacturing to technology to the creative sector—there’s a lot of great energy, and it’s exciting to be part of it.”
The Biltmore Park campus is currently expanding its program selection. There will soon be certificates available in other industries of value and importance in Western North Carolina.
“One of the big things is the very dramatic increase in professional development,” Frazier said. “We’re offering certificates in event planning and nonprofits, and also expanded programs in law, engineering, and accounting. It’s about serving the community better, where we work closely with local industry to know exactly what they need, and what we can and will ultimately provide them.”
WCU at Biltmore Executive Director Dr. Kevan Frazier. WCU PHOTO