Catawba College downtown bureau: why is it necessary?

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - When WBTV first posted a story last week about Catawba College opening an office in the Plaza in downtown Salisbury, several people wanted more details on why the school wanted the spot.

On Wednesday Catawba's President, Dr. Brien Lewis, visited the new location to speak with WBTV and lay out why having a downtown location was one of his priorities.

"We're only a couple of miles from downtown but sometimes people forget that there are as many athletic, and theater, and music performances as we've got going on there," Lewis said.  "And we just want to make sure that folks make the trip a couple miles down the road at the campus."

Catawba College has been located in Salisbury since 1925 when it moved from Newton.  The school's location is on the site of a former military college and the administration building is one of the structures still standing from those days.

Lewis says the downtown office, which faces W. Innes Street, will be a valuable resource for the community and help to further connect the college with its host town.

"It's not just a storefront, while we will have some sweatshirts and coffee mugs, things like that for sale," Lewis added.  "It's also an information hub for us, we're going to have admissions materials and applications here so we hope that visitors to the community will learn more about the college and become interested in all that we have to offer."

Lewis said the reception to the idea of the downtown location has been very positive.

"People have been coming up to me saying when does it open, when can we come see it.  They appreciate the signal that it sends about our involvement with the community but I think they also appreciate the convenience factor, if they're downtown shopping, want to grab a quick birthday present for somebody with a Catawba connection they can just stop right in and get that sweatshirt," Lewis said.

In the next few months the office could also be used for various presentations that would be open to the community, showcasing the national reputation Catawba has for the performing arts.

"It's not just going to be an information source and an opportunity to get tickets, we're also looking to program the space but having faculty to do presentations perhaps at a lunch hour to bring some of our music students to do performances and things like that, so it's really an extra venue for us to show the talent and the expertise that's available at Catawba," Lewis added.

Currently the offices is open and staffed from 11 am until 2 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but will expand hours for special events like the Friday Nights Out.