Wake Forest University announced Wednesday that it will offer undergraduate classes in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem.
WFU has leased space in a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. building from Wexford Science and Technology LLC of Baltimore, the university said in a statement. Wexford is renovating space in the 60 series building, next to the planned home of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, to accommodate classrooms and laboratories for undergraduate science programs.
WFU President Nathan Hatch said that the university’s interest in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter allows WFU to explore the intersection of arts and science, scholarship and entrepreneurship, and tradition and innovation. The Innovation Quarter is a division of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“An undergraduate presence in (the) Wake Forest Innovation Quarter would add to the growing synergy among the city’s academic institutions, while supporting intellectual collaboration, research opportunities and community engagement,” Hatch said.
Wake Forest undergraduate students could begin taking classes and conducting research in the Innovation Quarter in January 2017, WFU said. The university plans to accommodate up to 350 students by 2021.
WFU has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,812 students, according to its website.
Mayor Allen Joines said he was pleased to learn about WFU’s plans.
“It will continue to create a strong energy and vibrancy in the Innovation Quarter,” Joines said. “It is great to have the extension of the Reynolda campus. It is certainly good news for the school and for downtown.”.
Derwin Montgomery, a member of Winston-Salem City Council, couldn’t be reached Wednesday to comment. The Innovation Quarter is in the East Ward, which Montgomery represents on the council.
Eric Tomlinson, the president of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, said that WFU’s plans fit in with the Innovation Quarter’s vision, which includes creating a robust knowledge community.
“The addition of progressive undergraduate programs from Wake Forest University alongside the various scientific and clinical graduate programs already here very much contributes to that vision,” Tomlinson said. “And we are excited to partner with the university in this endeavor.”
Details about new academic offerings and the logistics required to extend the Reynolda campus presence to downtown Winston-Salem are still in the planning phase and working through the university’s faculty governance process, WFU said.
Katie Neal, a university spokeswoman, and James Patterson, a spokesman for the Innovation Quarter, declined to answer questions about WFU’s announcement or how it would affect science buildings on the Reynolda campus.
“It would be premature to share additional details at this time,” Neal said in an email.
More than 3,000 people, including scientists, engineers and other professionals, work in the Innovation Quarter. The district also has about 50 companies and more than 20 academic departments, including Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Technical Community College departments. In and around the district, there are about 600 apartments and lofts.
The Innovation Quarter comprises more than 2.5 million square feet of office, laboratory and educational space on its 145 acres, WFU said.
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