Bill to honor Mary Nesbitt and rename MAHEC campus becomes law

A bill that would both rename the Biltmore campus of the Mountain Area Education Center and honor former state representative and lifelong Asheville resident, Mary Nesbitt, was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The bill, HB 895, was introduced in April and was sponsored by Western North Carolina representatives on both sides of the aisle: Rep. Susan Fisher, Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Nathan Ramsey.

“Thanks to the Buncombe County Representatives for sponsoring a bill to name the UNC/ MAHEC after my mother Rep. Mary Nesbitt,” Nesbitt wrote in a Facebook post on his page yesterday. Xpress is currently seeking additional comments from Nesbitt at this time.

Both Nesbitt and Ramsey attended the bill signing yesterday.

Mary Cordell Nesbitt received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Western Carolina University and was honored with the Western Carolina University Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to Education. In 1974, she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the State House. She would go on to be elected to three terms between 1975 and 1979.

However,  she died on Aug. 1, 1979 before she could complete her term in office. In his mother’s absence, Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who represents Buncombe County, filled her term and would go on to serve 11 terms in the House. He has served more than five terms in the Senate, where he has been Senate Democratic Leader since 2009.

“There will certainly be some signage,” MAHEC President and CEO Jeff Heck tells Xpress, noting that the MAHEC’s name cannot change but the name of its campus can. “They’ve been great advocates for MAHEC because they’re advocates for health care and health education in Western North Carolina. We’re pleased to honor them.”

Heck says that a campus dedication ceremony is being planned for sometime after the General Assembly concludes.

— Caitlin Byrd can be reached at or 251-1333, ext. 140.


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