They don’t give out prizes at county fairs for growing universities, but if High Point University were a pumpkin, there’s no question HPU President Nido Qubein would take home the blue ribbon in the Most Impressive Growth category.

The school’s growth spurt – or, rather growthburst– began in 2005, when Qubein became president of HPU – and the school hasn’t taken so much as a 20-second breather since.

In 2018, the school continued its near magical growth with a string of groundbreakings and major projects, including a sports arena with an adjoining conference center and hotel.  HPU also began construction on the building for the Wanek School of Undergraduate Sciences, which will include the Culp Planetarium and Caine Conservatory.

In September, over 2,000 people came out to celebrate one of the biggest events of the year for the school – the groundbreaking for the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena, Conference Center and Hotel.

That $120-million project will be home court for HPU men’s and women’s Division I basketball teams, and will also be used to host other events and academic conferences.

The arena, which will open in 2020 with a seating capacity of about 4,500, will be used as a giant teaching tool as well: It will act as “a learning lab” for the school’s event management majors and those in related fields.

The conference center in the complex will seat 2,500 and will be used for undergraduate and graduate programs, academic conferences and other events.

There will also be a “small, boutique hotel” adjacent to the conference center.

At the groundbreaking in September, Bob Brown, the vice chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees, told the crowd why the board named the building after Qubein and his wife, HPU’s “First Lady” Mariana Qubein.

“Naming this facility in their honor is a symbol of gratitude for their profound vision, leadership, service and philanthropy and love of this great university,” Brown said. “Nido and Mariana Qubein are among the most generous supporters of HPU and they have been unwavering in their vigor and their drive to make this one of the greatest universities in our country.”

That groundbreaking was held during HPU’s Family Weekend, an event that draws about 5,000 visitors to High Point every year.

The groundbreaking for the arena, conference center and hotel, came just months after another big event.  In April, the university broke ground on the Wanek School of Undergraduate Sciences, named for Todd Wanek, the CEO of Ashley Furniture, and Karen Wanek, the president of Superior Fresh, a company that raises Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.

When it opens, the $65-million, four-story, 128,000-square-foot facility will be home to HPU’s expanding slate of science programs.  The building includes labs and classroom space, as well as the planetarium and conservatory.

The Wanek School of Undergraduate Sciences is HPU’s eighth academic school and is the fifth school established on campus since Nido Qubein became president 14 years ago.

In an email, Qubein said he was proud of all of the growth going on at HPU.  Qubein also said he was very pleased with the effort now going on to rejuvenate downtown High Point.  The downtown project includes a baseball stadium, a children’s’ museum and much more.

He also noted that HP365 – a new center for entrepreneurs that’s an initiative of Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce, is helping the city grow as well.

Qubein has led a fund-raising effort that has now pulled in $58 million for the revitalization effort.

Katie Hamlin, the media relations manager for HPU, pointed to the growth of the university’s pharmacy program in 2018 as a big achievement.  HPU opened the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy two years ago and it continued to expand its efforts in the community.

According to Hamlin, since it opened, students have administered more than 1,000 flu shots, completed more than 1,000 blood pressure and glucose screenings and conducted more than 450 visits at the Continuing Care Retirement Community.  In 2018, NC Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey went to HPU to honor 26 HPU pharmacy students who became counselors for the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program and helped those seniors save on their Medicare plans.