ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness, scheduled to open at UNC Asheville in Summer 2011, has been named in honor of Wilma Sherrill, a long-time advocate for heath and wellbeing for children and families. The naming was announced by UNC Asheville Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Buckner at a special gathering honoring Sherrill on Monday evening, Dec. 6.
"Wilma Sherrill has worked tirelessly for decades as a champion of health, disease prevention, families and children, economic development, and education at all levels," Buckner said. "The Board of Trustees felt it was more than fitting to honor her many years of civic engagement by naming the center in her honor." The board voted to name the center in recognition of Sherrill's achievements at its October 20 meeting.
The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness serves as a statewide resource for health and wellness professionals by conducting applied interdisciplinary research, and assessing community-based programs that address critical wellness issues. The center's work aligns with UNC Asheville's academic programs in health and wellness promotion, and encourages collaborations among health and wellness providers and stakeholders across the region and state. The center's initial focus will be on three of North Carolina's most pressing health concerns: childhood obesity, workplace wellness and healthy aging.
While serving as UNC Asheville's Special Assistant to the Chancellor on External Affairs from 2008 to 2009, Sherrill helped define the work of the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness and played a key role in raising more than $5 million in contributions for health and wellness programs. She led efforts that created a collaboration between UNC Asheville and Mission Hospital on issues of health and wellness, childhood obesity and health care access. The annual Spring into Wellness summer fitness camp for middle school students is one successful example of this collaboration.
Sherrill is noted across the state for her passion about the health and wellbeing of children and families. She has been an active member of health-related boards, including the Mission Healthcare Foundation, the Asheville/Buncombe United Way, the Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Children First Advocacy Council, and the American Cancer Drive.
While serving as a member of the General Assembly representing Buncombe County, she led efforts to strengthen the state's domestic violence laws. She has been praised for her work on behalf of women and families by the Women at Risk Program, Helpmate and Child Abuse Protective Services, and honored by a host of organizations including the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Child Care Advocates, and the N.C. Association of Professional Psychologists.
"Wilma is a role model for students of all ages," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. "We want our students and all those who will benefit from the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness for generations to come to understand what a difference one person can make in the lives of others. Honoring her in this way will ensure that her extraordinary service to North Carolina is celebrated."
The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness is located in the heart of UNC Asheville's campus, between Justice Center and Reuter Center, home to the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement. The 133,500-square-foot facility will house classrooms, research and teaching labs; strength training and aerobics rooms; offices, meeting rooms and seminar space; and a dance studio, wellness cafe and demonstration kitchen for use in nutrition courses. The facility also includes a multipurpose convocation center, the Kimmel Arena. It will have seating for 4,000 for commencement and convocation, health fairs, symposiums and national speakers, and seating for 3,400 for intercollegiate basketball.
Construction costs are $41 million and are funded in large part by a $35-million appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly. UNC Asheville has raised $6 million in private funds. Construction is expected to be completed in April 2011. The project architects are Bowers Ellis & Watson of Asheville, and HOK, an international firm that specializes in public assembly architecture. Shelco Inc. of Winston-Salem is the general contractor.