HPU investment nearing $1 billion, president says
High Point University is under a tight timeline to have a planned pharmacy school under construction by 2015, and part of it hinges on a pending rezoning request with the city of High Point.
The city has agreed to make several street improvements to facilitate the project and, later this month, will consider rezoning requests that would enable HPU to expand the campus.
“If we can’t rezone, we can’t grow. If we can’t get certain streets, we can’t grow. If we can’t get students, we can’t get revenue. If we can’t get revenue, there goes your economic development,” HPU President Nido Qubein said, speaking at last week’s annual meeting of the High Point Economic Development Corp. “Luckily, we have a city manager and city staff and City Council who understood that.”
The pharmacy school, which would be the only one in the Triad, could amount to a $100 million investment — HPU’s biggest project to date.
“These are large schools. And these are going to have 700 graduate students and another 100 staff people,” he said. “That will be about 350 faculty members. ... These are high average salaries. You’re talking people from Johns Hopkins, from Duke, from Emory, from Vanderbilt, from Harvard. To attract them here, you have to pay them well, and you have to build research facilities for them.”
Recapping HPU’s booming growth and defending the strategy used to finance it, Qubein said the university has invested about $980 million in expansions and upgrades of its campus over the past eight years.
“People who say, ‘You borrowed all that money’ don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Qubein, explaining that only about 14 percent of the funds used for the expansion were borrowed.
“The rest of it was all funded through operations — that is to say, revenues over expenses, and philanthropic gifts, which is a remarkable story in and of itself,” he said.
HPU has raised about $216 million in the past eight years and has increased undergraduate enrollment from about 1,500 to about 4,000, he said. HPU students pay an average of $45,000 per year to attend, he added. During Qubein’s tenure, 53 buildings have been constructed.
Qubein said he would like to see 2,000 to 4,000 HPU graduate students in various programs, up from the current number of about 300.
“We are anticipating significant growth down the road, clearly, with our graduate school,” he said. “Wake Forest University is one of our biggest supporters, and they can’t wait until we build this school of pharmacy, because they’re going to partner with us. Cone and High Point Regional Hospital are the same way. Cornerstone is the same way. They’re all waiting to partner with us on these programs, and that’s why we know it’s going to be a very, very successful undertaking.”