Dear Campus Community,
I want to provide you with an update on our residence halls. Below is the message I sent to President Spellings and our Board of Trustees. Yesterday, the University was granted beneficial occupancy for the five newly constructed residence halls from the North Carolina State Construction Office.
Today, we began to move students into the residence halls for the beginning of the fall semester.
Today at 5:00 p.m., I received an email notice from Mike Causey, Commissioner of NC Department of Insurance, stating that he determined “that conditions exist in the University’s new wooden dormitories that pose an undue hazard to life and safety and, therefore, is prohibiting use of the buildings until these hazards are abated.” At the same time, he released a press statement which has been picked up by local media. We believe these buildings are safe as was confirmed by the Office of State Construction which granted us beneficial occupancy yesterday. This evening, we have consulted with the State Construction Office, the UNC System General Counsel, and the Department of Justice attorney after receiving this letter, and will be continuing our discussions tomorrow.
In an abundance of caution, we are relocating our students until this situation is resolved. Again, we are exploring options to support the safety of our students and student life.
Below is a media statement I released at 7:30 p.m. for your reference. I will keep you posted as we resolve this matter.
The safety of our students is our top priority. The issues raised by the North Carolina Department of Insurance have already been addressed and accepted by the Office of State Construction. The Office of State Construction, which we believe has authority in this matter, has assured UNC Asheville that the buildings are safe and that office granted occupancy on August 15. While initial Department of Insurance inspections did reveal some concerns, those issues have been addressed by a third-party engineering firm, the architect of record, and accepted and approved by the State Construction Office.
Our new residence halls are safe or we would not have allowed our students to begin to move in. In an abundance of caution due to this unexpected development, we are relocating our students until this situation is resolved. We believe these buildings are safe as was confirmed by the Office of State Construction. We are moving with deliberate speed to ensure minimal disruption to our students and the start of our academic year.
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Nancy J. Cable, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina Asheville