Trustees give green light to business, biotechnology centers


A biotechnology research and training facility and a planned Center for Entrepreneurship cleared major hurdles with the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

In an October 6 special meeting, the trustees approved hiring an architect for the 5,000 square-foot laboratory. Located next to UNCP’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development at COMtech, it will be used for undergraduate training in biotechnology.

Funding for construction was approved this summer by the North Carolina General Assembly and will come from North Carolina Higher Education Bonds.

In a separate vote, the trustees authorized the University to begin negations to lease an office in Pembroke. A $1 million endowment, half from Pembroke native and Los Angeles real estate developer Jim Thomas and half from the state, will fund the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship and theThomas Family Professorship in Entrepreneurship.

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said the projects are important to UNCP’s academic and community outreach programs.

“The UNCP bio-processing facility will house laboratories, classrooms and offices for faculty and students and will attract private sector business partners,” Chancellor Meadors said. “Bio-manufacturing is a significant training, research and business opportunity.”

“The Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship and the Thomas Family Professorship in Entrepreneurship. will lift small businesses in the region, while giving our undergraduate and graduate students valuable experience,” he said. “Small business will drive the economic development of our region in the 21st century.”

A national search for a professor to lead the center would begin in the next few weeks, said UNCP Provost Charles Harrington. The center will open in the summer of 2006.

Several sites are being considered and the University will negotiate a three-year lease agreement, said Neil Hawk, vice chancellor for Business Affairs. The University is seeking about 3,000 square feet of space for offices, conference rooms and a classroom.

BJAC Architects of Raleigh, N.C., will design the biotechnology facility. BJAC also designed the recent renovations and additions to the Oxendine Science Building.

“This building will be constructed so that it can be expanded when other funds become available,” said Chancellor Meadors.

The bio-processing or fermentation process produces valuable products for agriculture, food, animal and pharmaceutical applications. A three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) helped pave the way for the center.

A faculty planning committee, that includes Dr. Len Holmes of the Chemistry Department and Dr. Maria Pereira and Dr. Robert Poage of the Biology Department, guided the planning process.

In other business, the trustees approved a resolution in support of federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe that will be sent to Congress.

For more information about biotechnology at UNCP, please call Dr. Len Holmes at 910.521.6650 or email

For information about the Center for Entrepreneurship, please call Dr. Eric Dent, dean of the School of Business at 910.521.6214 or email