you're reading...

Cornelius News

Scott Higgins taking on a new career at age 75

Scott Higgins

Dec. 13. By Dave Yochum. Scott Higgins is in the process of redefining himself. A widower at 75—his wife Sharon passed away in September—Higgins says his retirement years will be a balance between community, family and recreation.

He’s already an avid cyclist, logging 100 to 120 miles a week.

Now he’s on the Cornelius Town Board where he has launched an entirely new job after nearly a lifetime in academia.

He will be the oldest of five commissioners as well as mayor pro tem: He got the most votes in the Nov. 7 non-partisan local election.

Not a party animal

He’s a registered Republican.

“I don’t like either party to be honest,” he says, explaining that local politics are about fire and police, parks and recreation and roads and infrastructure—not whether one is a Democrat or Republican.


“My whole campaign was about balance; balance between building and infrastructure, residential and and amenities,” Higgins explains. This past year, he helped lead the fight against the misplaced Commerce Center on a steep hill on Bailey Road near a popular town park, train tracks, a challenging intersection and two public schools.

“I’m not for more building without infrastructure, to include sidewalks, greenways and underground utilities,” he says.

Higgins is also a former member of the Cain Center for the Arts board as well as former chair of the Parks & Recreation Board. He was also recognized by the prestigious NC Parks and Recreation Association as the most outstanding member of a local advisory board.

He will leave the Cornelius Planning Board, where he served with Commissioner-elect Susan Johnson, to take his seat on the dais at Town Hall.


It seems like it’s a long way from the academic life, where he distinguished himself as a health professional administrator, university dean, chief research officer and professor. The role of intra-departmental collaboration in academia is good training for work on the Town Board which ultimately oversees a $30 million, multi-department business as well as relations with other municipalities and North Carolina government.

Higgins grew up in Florida where he graduated ffrom the University of Central Florida before getting a master’s degree from Indiana University. He received at Ed.D from the University of South Carolina where his focus was on health care administration.

He spent most of his career at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, teaching, mentoring and administering health care science courses and programs. During his last six years, he was dean of the Graduate School and not to mention vice president and later president off the Southern Conference for collegiate athletics.

Now with a career in academia under his belt and seven-plus years on various town boards, Higgins says he is ready to step up to the town board.

On his to-do list:

• Assisting with the downtown strategic plan—a key undertaking as the Cain Center for the Arts spurs growth and change.

• Supporting a possible bond for parks, greenways and capital improvements involving recreation in Cornelius.

• Work with commissioners, town staff and NCDOT to help improve the flow of traffic throughout the town.

He also wants to see a “sense of urgency on the part of the town board in finding ways to improve walkability in Cornelius.

“I want people to be safe as they either ride or drive on our roads, and I want pedestrian safety to be our priority,” he says.

“Walkability and connectivity for all our citizens includes getting to and from the amenities, like kids riding bikes to school, folks walking to and from the Cain Center—it’s connecting neighborhoods with greenways.”

The five-member Town Board will vote on things that affect your pocketbook, most notably property taxes. The first budget planning session for FY 2025 is Feb. 8 at the Cain Center for the Arts. March 26-27 is the budget planning workshop. A new budget must be approved by June 30 of next year.