COA panel: Use former president's house for lab


A trustee committee has recommended College of The Albemarle's former president's house be used for a year as a simulation lab for the college's health sciences programs.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A trustee committee has recommended using College of The Albemarle’s former president’s house as a temporary lab facility for health science programs, meaning the structure likely will avoid demolition for another year.

The COA trustees’ Building and Grounds Committee voted last week to recommend spending $5,000 to make the necessary renovations to the house so it can be used for one year as a simulation lab.

Committee member Wallace Nelson cast the lone dissenting vote on the proposal. He could not be reached Monday for comment on this story.

The full Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the committee’s recommendation at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Robin Harris, the community college’s director of health sciences programs, told trustees in August that COA needs space for a new simulation lab for nursing and other health sciences programs. Harris explained that the State Board of Nursing has indicated that COA’s current simulation lab space is not adequate under newly adopted standards for nursing education programs.

COA trustees agreed in August to explore the costs and feasibility of using the former president’s house for the nursing program simulation lab. Former President Kandi Deitemeyer lived in the house, located at the back of the college’s Elizabeth City campus, during her tenure at COA. However, COA officials have decided not to continue using it as a residence for the college president since Deitemeyer’s departure at the end of 2016.

The Building and Grounds Committee considered a number of options for the house’s use before voting this February to raze the building, citing concerns about its condition and the costs to renovate it.

The new plan represents a reprieve of sorts — at least a temporary one — for the building.

COA President Robert Wynegar said the committee agreed to operate the simulation lab in the house for a one-year period “while we search for a better alternative.”

The temporary plan gives the college some time to plan for a longer-term solution, he said.

“It gives us a year to look at our options and see what else is possible,” Wynegar said.

Harris told trustees in August that it’s extremely difficult to meet the simulation requirements right now because of space limitations in the college’s Zack Owens Health Sciences Building. She said the nursing program needs roughly the floor space of the first floor of the former president’s house.

The $5,000 figure that the Building and Grounds Committee has recommended for renovations is intended to meet the minimal requirements for housing the lab in the house. It’s far less than the $40,000 cost estimate trustees discussed in August.