New host campus for Governor’s School West brings opportunity for growth

High Point University takes the reins from Salem College, as statewide program for gifted high school students seeks to expand facilities to attract N.C.’s best and brightest

HIGH POINT – The North Carolina State Board of Education and the institutions associated with the North Carolina Governor’s School have announced that High Point University will serve as Governor’s School West beginning in the summer of 2019.

Governor’s School West is transitioning from Salem College in Winston-Salem, the original campus home for North Carolina and a model for the country. Stakeholders say this positions the Governor’s School for the growth necessary to meet the “ever-increasing demand of our outstanding students in North Carolina’s K-12 education public and private schools.” Meredith College in Raleigh will continue to host Governor’s School East.

Lee Conner, President North Carolina Governor’s School Foundation said, “We’re excited about this new chapter for Governor’s School. High Point University will be a great location to renew the community of learning and intellectual inquiry that have defined Governor’s School for 55 years and will continue to do so as it provides a life-changing experience to some of North Carolina’s most talented students.”

The Governor’s School is the oldest statewide summer residential program for academically or intellectually gifted high school students in the nation. Welcoming the first class in 1963 on Salem’s campus, and expanding in 1978 to include a Governor’s School East at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg (before moving to Meredith College in 2000), the schools offer a five and a-half week summer residential program for high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses on each of the two campuses, with at least one spot guaranteed for students from all 100 counties, serving up to 350 students at each campus.


The curriculum focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline, and does not involve credit, tests, or grades. The program is open to rising seniors only, with exceptions made for rising juniors in selected performing/visual arts areas, and is administered by the Department of Public Instruction through the Exceptional Children Division. A Board of Governors, appointed by the State Board of Education, acts as an advisory body.


According to officials, with Salem College expressing a need to focus on internal strategic goals moving forward, requests for proposals to host the western program went out to campuses in that region of the state. Ultimately, leaders determined that High Point University offered the best opportunity to ensure the same high-quality disciplines and staff retention, as well as program facilities that could accommodate future growth.

“For fifty-five years, Salem enjoyed a close relationship with the Governor’s School,” said Sandra J. Doran, President of Salem Academy and College. “Hosting Governor’s School West on our campus this summer would have been difficult because we are planning maintenance and repairs to several of our residence halls and academic facilities. We are pleased that our neighbors at High Point University are able to take the baton and provide a space for this enriching summer program for North Carolina’s brightest high school students, and we hope to welcome the Governor’s School West students to our campus in the future.”

Those involved in the decision point to High Point University’s “innovative and transformational campus” to serve as the home for Governor’s School West. University president Nido Qubein said, “This is a win-win relationship between a thriving institution and outstanding high school students in the state. This is another opportunity the HPU family will have to prepare our younger generation for the world as it is going to be.”

After nearly being cut from the state budget in 2017, Governor’s School alumni from across the state – including elected officials and numerous prominent citizens – joined together in a quickly mobilized and successful grassroots effort to restore funding and ensure the schools’ future. The latest move to High Point University is being characterized as allowing the Governor’s School programs to offer innovation and opportunity in state-of-the-art facilities to meet the growing needs of N.C.’s most gifted students, while honoring the program’s unique and historic role in promoting academic and artistic achievement.

Students selected for the 2019 Governor’s School session have received their invitations, and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, sees this transition as the best-case scenario for this summer and beyond.  “We are also thankful for the collaborative support and contributions made by the Governor’s School Board of Governors, Alumni Association, Foundation, site directors, faculty, staff, and school contacts around the state, as well as the Department of Public Instruction, the Governor and his administration, and the General Assembly for their continued investment in this program.  We are grateful for the passion, investment and work of so many to help make this a successful transition for the summer of 2019.”