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High Point University Students Consult On Furniture Museum Project

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High Point University students in the master's of nonprofit administration evaluation and assessment class learned first-hand how to create and implement surveys, focus groups and interviews through a project with the High Point Museum. The museum, which recently received the holdings from the now-closed Furniture Discovery Center, needed to evaluate how best to use the materials in a fun and exciting exhibit that would showcase the importance of furniture not only to High Point but also to the entire state. "The students did a very thorough job," said Barbara Taylor, president of the High Point Museum. "We're still trying to define what this exhibit will be, and with the help of the HPU students, we're off to a great start." Pending grant approval, the furniture exhibit is slated to open in 2009, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the City of High Point. The High Point University students, under the direction of adjunct instructor Dr. Patrick Harman, executive director of the Hayden-Harman Foundation, broke into five groups and queried different segments of the community about the planned exhibit - the museum's Board of Directors, officials from the City of High Point, the general public, teachers from Welborn Middle School and Andrews High School, and people who work in the furniture industry. The HPU students conducted focus groups, surveys and phone interviews to gather the information, which was then presented to museum officials. Some of the overriding themes from the groups were that the exhibit should be hands-on and interactive; that it highlight the process of furniture making; and that the voices of those in the industry - from top executives to warehouse workers - be heard telling their stories. "Both the students and the museum benefited from this project," said Harman. "The students were able to gain practical experience in a nonprofit application and the museum received a needed evaluation. It was a win-win situation." "This was an invaluable experience," adds Gail Tuttle, a student in the class. "The teaching of methodology and instrument development becomes very dry in the classroom environment. With this project we were able to do research and directly apply it to a real-life situation. I found it very interesting." At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in a fun environment with caring people. HPU is a liberal arts institution with approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 50 countries and 44 states at campuses in High Point and Winston-Salem. It is ranked by US News and World Report 15th among comprehensive universities in the South and in the top 100 nationally. The university offers 68 undergraduate majors, 33 minors and seven graduate-degree programs. It is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference.

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