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WCU students to present mock trial based on Ron Rash novel ‘Serena’

Western Carolina University business law students will present a mock trial based on the Ron Rash novel “Serena” at a courtroom in the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

The event, which lasts three hours and begins at 5 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Rash, an award-winning writer and WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, authored “Serena,” and the novel set in Western North Carolina is this year’s selection for the WCU Office of First Year Experience’s One Book program. The program is designed to encourage students to have common intellectual conversation about one book. Freshmen were provided with copies of the novel, which was incorporated into transition courses as well as multiple upper-level courses in a range of disciplines.

Jayne Zanglein, professor of business law, assigned her students to develop a trial based on the characters and a legal issue in “Serena.” They crafted a case set in 1930 titled “Susan Harrill, as spouse ‘ad litem’ on behalf of William Harrill, deceased, Plaintiff v. The Pemberton Lumber Company, Defendant.”

In the lawsuit, Harrill alleges that an agent of the lumber company intentionally cut a cable wire in an attempt to injure or kill her husband.

The mock trial will involve a range of witnesses including the book’s title character, Serena Pemberton, as the wife of the lumber company manager. Exhibits include historical images, detailed information and diagrams of log loaders and equipment, and statistics regarding workplace injuries in the southern United States from pulpwood logging.

For more information, contact Zanglein at 828-227-7191.

WCU Wrapping Up 125th Anniversary Celebration Today

Paws_RunningWestern Carolina University will wrap up the yearlong celebration of the 125th anniversary of its founding with the It’s a Wrap Party at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee.

The event will be highlighted by a cross-campus parade led by WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, which will have just returned from participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Members of the campus and surrounding communities are encouraged to wear their purple-and-gold apparel and join the band in the on-campus march. The It’s a Wrap parade is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Scott Residence Hall and end at the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

WCU To Host Fall Commencement Ceremony

Western Carolina University will hold commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 13, to honor its fall graduating class and some newly minted WCU alumni who received degrees after this year’s summer school sessions.

The 1 p.m. ceremony at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center is open to everyone and no tickets are required for admission. Chancellor David O. Belcher will preside over commencement and deliver his charge to the fall semester degree candidates and summer graduates.

Graduating student Jill Haley West White of Andrews, a secondary English education major, will deliver the primary commencement address.

WCU’s fall class includes about 800 students who currently are working on final academic requirements to receive their degrees and who qualify to participate in the ceremony. Approximately 140 WCU graduates who completed degree requirements during summer school and who already have been conferred degrees also will be eligible to don caps and gowns for the event.

Individuals attending WCU’s commencement should enter the Ramsey Center through one of four upper concourse doors. Those with physical disabilities should use the northeastern upper entrance, adjacent to the stands of E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

WCU marching band to headline closing event of 125th anniversary celebration

There’s one more parade left on the itinerary this year for members of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, who opened the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just a few days ago.

And the remaining route will be quite a bit different than the trek through the concrete canyons of New York City, as the band will march across the bucolic WCU campus to help wrap up the university’s yearlong celebration of its 125th year of existence.

Titled the “It’s a Wrap Party,” the event is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 5, as the Pride of the Mountains will lead a parade of students and campus organizations from Scott Residence Hall to the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center, where the band will reprise its Macy’s parade performance.

The “It’s a Wrap Party” also will include remarks from WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher to bring the 125th anniversary year to a close, along with prizes, giveaways, refreshments and special recognition of alumni and students.

Members of the campus and surrounding communities are invited to wear their own sports uniforms, letter jackets or other purple-and-gold apparel and join the band in the cross-campus march. Those who do not wish to participate in the parade may watch the band and others march across campus, or simply arrive at the Ramsey Center and be seated no later than 4:15 p.m. The doors to the Ramsey Center will open at 3 p.m.

The yearlong celebration of WCU’s 125th anniversary began in January as hundreds of people crowded into the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center for a kickoff event highlighted by a fashion show of clothing from throughout WCU history, modeled by students, faculty, staff and community members.

The official 125th anniversary bash was held Aug. 26, the month in which the school that became WCU was founded in 1889. The event, attended by thousands, included a picnic on the University Center lawn, remarks from elected officials, a concert on the Central Plaza and old-fashioned games.

The majority of the year’s celebration was designed around traditional highlights of WCU’s annual calendar, such as spring commencement ceremonies, Mountain Heritage Day, the Spring Literary Festival, Homecoming and alumni receptions across the state and the Southeast.

Duke Energy $75,000 gift supports WCU engineering program

Western Carolina University’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology will expand hands-on learning experiences for engineering students and boost efforts to recruit and retain engineering students with a $75,000 gift from the Duke Energy Foundation.

The gift, announced at WCU on Monday, Nov. 17, will fund the purchase of new power systems laboratory equipment and provide student scholarships, faculty development and programming to encourage more students across Western North Carolina to explore engineering as a profession.

Jeffrey L. Ray, dean of the Kimmel School, said WCU is excited to collaborate with Duke Energy to help grow the number of engineering and technology professionals who can help meet the manufacturing and energy needs across Western North Carolina.

“As someone who has worked with multitudes of electric cooperatives around the South, I know firsthand how important and essential electric power is to the economic growth of this region of North Carolina, and we really appreciate Duke Energy’s support,” said Ray.

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address needs vital to the health of the communities Duke Energy serves, and the gift to WCU fits with the foundation’s commitment to supporting economic and workforce development, said Lisa Leatherman, Duke Energy’s district manager for Jackson County.

“Engaging the future engineering students in hands-on learning experiences ignites excitement for the profession. Duke Energy is proud to partner with Western Carolina to help support and inspire students at Western Carolina,” said Leatherman.

WCU is dedicating $45,000 of the amount awarded to purchase power electronics lab stations and electric drives lab stations. Wes Stone, interim head of the school’s Department of Engineering and Technology, said the equipment for faculty and student research and hands-on lab experiences adds a new dimension to WCU’s engineering programs.

Jordan Chaires, a graduate student from Raleigh pursuing a master’s degree in technology, said he is excited to be able to use the new equipment to measure the efficiency of the solar power equipment and circuitry he will be working with for his thesis project. Chaires said the project fits in with his interest in working in a field in which he can help increase the efficiency and potential for using renewable energy and power sources.

“I know it sounds cliche, but I just want to help the world and the planet,” he said. “If we have the sun and the wind, why not use it?”

Another $15,000 from the gift will support new Duke Energy Scholars Program merit-based scholarships to be awarded in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The first five Duke Energy scholars, announced Nov. 17, are Milton Canupp, a junior from Minneapolis majoring in electrical engineering; Kaleb Frizzell, a junior from Sylva majoring in electrical and computer engineering technology; Adam Gropp, a junior from Enka majoring in electrical engineering; Dylan Shook, a junior from Claremont majoring in engineering technology; and Jacob Spurling, a junior from Boiling Springs majoring in electrical engineering.

The final $15,000 of the gift will support faculty development and initiatives designed to encourage more students from across the region to consider studying engineering.

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher thanked Duke Energy for its generous support, which he said is helping to fuel the momentum of WCU’s Kimmel School in driving innovation and economic development in Western North Carolina. Kimmel School faculty and students, through a range of partnerships and collaborations, are helping sustain, maintain and grow businesses and industries across the region, Belcher said.

Enrollment in the school’s engineering programs soared after the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors approved a stand-alone engineering program for WCU in 2012, said Belcher. In addition, the university recently expanded general engineering program offerings to its Asheville location at Biltmore Park to meet demand among existing and prospective businesses along the Interstate-26 growth corridor. That program expansion was made possible with funding from the N.C. General Assembly through the leadership of N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) in 2013. WCU was the only UNC institution in the state that year to receive program expansion funding, Belcher said.

“The General Assembly thought Western Carolina’s engineering program and what we need to do for this region was so important they found money to support it,” said Belcher. “The work our faculty, staff and students are doing to support businesses and industries in our area is incredible and strengthens the overall economic health of all of Western North Carolina.”

Armed Robbery on WCU Campus; Police Seek Help

Vehicle-of-interest_18498Western Carolina University Police are asking for the public’s help to find three suspects connected to an armed robbery on campus Wednesday night.

Campus police say the suspects — two white males and one black male — were armed with what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun and a baseball bat.

It happened around 9:15 p.m. near the old Brown cafeteria. Police say their vehicle is possibly an older model Ford Escort, appears to be faded red in color.

Suspect 1 is described as a white male, mid 20’s, 5″8″, thin build, facial hair, white t-shirt, blue jeans, dark colored knit type hat, armed with a handgun.

Suspect 2 is a white male, mid 20’s, no further description.

Suspect 3 is a black male, mid 20’s 5’10”, thin build, dark t shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Western Carolina University Police Detective Jacob Deal at 828-227-7301.

Iranian-born journalist to speak Nov. 20 at WCU

A native of Iran who is a former Rotary Peace Fellow and past editor of publications now banned or shut down by the Iranian government will present the keynote address for International Education Week at Western Carolina University on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ali Eshraghi, Iran project manager for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, will deliver a talk tentatively titled “U.S.-Iran: Reconfiguring the Middle East” in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Eshraghi’s journalism career spans more than 15 years, and he has published hundreds of articles and op-ed pieces in Persian, Arabic and English media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, PBS Frontline, the New Republic and Al Jazeera.

The nonprofit institute for which Eshraghi works is committed to supporting citizen journalism and media institutions to help people in parts of the world faced with conflict and crisis have the information they need to drive positive changes in their lives.

In Iran, dozens of journalists have served time in prison or been sentenced to lashings after being charged with offenses such as “anti-government publicity” and “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” according to information from the nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders.

John Whitmire, associate professor and head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, said Eshraghi’s experience has given him an invaluable expertise and perspective of peace, war and conflict resolution as well as U.S. and Iranian relations.

“He is someone whose life has been committed to speaking truth to power in the interests of reforming his own community and world,” said Whitmire. “In his various vocational lives, he’s been a real exemplar of journalistic and citizen advocacy directed towards changing his own society for the better, which you can’t do unless you really uncover the ways that it is currently falling short. In his case, this has entailed a lot of risk.”

Eshraghi also serves as the chair for the Civic Institute for Advocacy and Networking and a teaching fellow in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is an alumnus of the Duke-UNC Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution and was a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Journalism and the Institute of International Studies. Eshraghi also was a research fellow at the Religion, Politics and Globalization Program at U.C. Berkeley. He studied political science and Islamic studies at Imam Sadiq University in Tehran.

In addition to delivering the keynote address for International Education Week at WCU, Eshraghi will speak to a philosophy and religion class about his experience of religion inside and outside of Iran; an English class that has read Persepolis about life in Iran; and to journalism students about his career and what it takes to succeed.

WCU’s Office of International Programs and Services partnered with the Department of Philosophy and Religion to make Eshraghi’s visit and address at WCU possible.

WCU band selected to lead Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

JDP_9067When the 505 members of the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band pound the pavement of New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, they won’t be just taking part in the beloved holiday tradition. They will be the very first parade participants to hit the streets that morning.

That’s because the WCU unit has been selected as the lead band for the parade by organizers of the event, to be held Thursday, Nov. 27.

Wesley Whatley, creative director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, broke the news to members of the Pride of the Mountains during a recent band tournament held on campus.

“We are so excited that the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band has been chosen to lead the parade through the streets of New York City,” said David Starnes, WCU director of athletic bands. “What this means is that we will be leading the parade from Central Park West along the parade route.”

The parade will be broadcast live by NBC beginning at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. The television broadcast includes other acts that perform for the cameras as the parade moves through the city to the stage area at 34th Street, Starnes said. “We will be the first parade participant to be seen on TV,” he said.

During its time in front of the cameras – and an international TV audience – the band will perform “I’ve Seen the Lights Go out on Broadway” by Billy Joel. During the parade, the band will perform other selections from its 2014 halftime production, “Street Beatz,” a musical travelogue of “The Big Apple.”

The Pride of the Mountains is one of only 10 marching bands selected from across the nation to perform in the 2014 Macy’s parade. The invitation to perform at the event, which came in a surprise on-campus announcement by parade officials in April 2013, is the latest in a long line of accolades bestowed upon the WCU marching band.

The Pride of the Mountains was recipient of the 2009 Sudler Trophy, awarded by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation and considered the nation’s highest and most-coveted award for college and university marching bands.

The band followed that up with an invitation to march in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, where it won “favorite band” in a poll conducted by KTLA-TV, earning 40 percent of all votes cast in the poll and more than any of the parade’s other musical groups.

Next stop, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Founded in 1924, the world-famous Macy’s parade attracts more than 3.5 million spectators lining the streets of New York, and 50 million at-home viewers.

WCU Student Charged with Off Campus Rape

Robert “Bobby” William McRainey is being held under a $100,000 secured bond.

Robert “Bobby” William McRainey is being held under a $100,000 secured bond.

In the early morning hours Saturday the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into a reported sexual assault. The offense was reported to have occurred at Citadel Drive in Cullowhee. During the investigation it was determined this residence was an apartment shared by two persons who are friends with the suspect and victim. The victim is a white female, 20 years of age and is a student at Appalachian State University.

Robert “Bobby” William McRainey, from Shallotte, NC but has a local on campus address at Western Carolina University and was an enrolled student at the time of this offense.

He is charged with Second Degree Rape, arrested on November 2, 2014, and held in the Jackson County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond.

WCU vice chancellor honors parents, supports band students with new scholarship

Standing from left, Robert Edwards, Chancellor David O. Belcher and Wayne Edwards join (seated from left) Roy and Hazel Edwards in honor of the establishment of the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Standing from left, Robert Edwards, Chancellor David O. Belcher and Wayne Edwards join (seated from left) Roy and Hazel Edwards in honor of the establishment of the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Robert Edwards, who is stepping down in December as Western Carolina University’s vice chancellor for administration and finance after 37 years of service to the university, has turned around the age-old notion of “retirement gift.” Instead of merely accepting a gold watch or a rocking chair, Edwards has made a gift of his own to establish a scholarship fund honoring his parents and his high school band director.

Through contributions totaling more than $10,000, Edwards has created the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide annual support to members of WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band who are from one of the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina.

Edwards, a 1977 graduate of WCU, said he named the scholarship in honor of his parents, Roy and Hazel Edwards of Sylva, because he wanted to publicly thank them for enabling him and his brother, Wayne Edwards of Waynesville, to attend and graduate from the university. Wayne Edwards, a 1979 graduate of WCU, is a Haywood County insurance executive.

“I know that my mother and father sacrificed quite a bit financially and in other ways so that Wayne and I were able to go to Western Carolina University,” he said. “Without their sacrifices and support, neither of us would have been able to have obtained a college education, and I felt it was important to recognize that fact by naming this scholarship fund in their honor.”

Edwards said there are two main reasons why he stipulated that the scholarships supported by the endowed fund should benefit students who are part of WCU’s marching band program.

“First, I truly believe that the marching band is one of the best things we have going at Western Carolina,” he said. “With its growth in size and quality, it has become a significant part of recruiting students to come to Cullowhee, and I wanted to do what I could to help with that.”

In directing his gifts to support the marching band program, Edwards also wanted to pay homage to his former band director at Sylva-Webster (now Smoky Mountain) High School, Bob Buckner, who would go on to assume the reins of WCU’s marching band program and help it grow from fewer than 90 members to more than 400 when he retired. The band, now directed by David Starnes, has more than 500 members this year.

“Bob is truly the mastermind of what we have going on today in our marching band program. The program is thriving because of the strong foundation that Bob left when he retired. Besides my mom and dad, Bob Bucker is the individual who has had the most influence in my life,” Edwards said.

“He taught me that perfection is only obtained through hard dedicated work. I learned how to be a winner with humility and modesty and I learned how to accept losing with dignity and grace,” he said. “Bob always had a special talent of getting more out of us than 100 percent. He taught all of us to do more than what we thought we were capable of doing. Throughout my life, there have been numerous times when I found myself digging deep within myself, remembering these life lessons from Bob.”

Buckner, a 1967 graduate of Western Carolina, became director of WCU’s marching band in 1991. During his tenure, the band received the 2009 John Philip Sousa Foundation’s prestigious Sudler Trophy, the nation’s highest and most-coveted award for college and university marching bands. Capping his career was a 2011 New Year’s Day appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade by the Pride of the Mountains, which was named “best band” in the parade in an online poll conducted by KTLA-TV of Los Angeles. Buckner retired in the summer of 2011 after 20 years as director.

This year, the band will be participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Edwards became vice chancellor for administration and finance on July 1, 2011, after serving in the role in an interim capacity. He had previously worked as the university’s internal auditor for 27 years. Born and raised in Jackson County, he graduated from Sylva-Webster High School in 1973.

The Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship is expected to be awarded for the first time next year, with preference given to a graduate of Smoky Mountain High School who is a member of the WCU marching band. Recipients must demonstrate financial need, and may be either new or continuing WCU students who are in good academic standing.

The gift from Edwards is the latest in a series of new endowed scholarships created at WCU since the installation of Chancellor David O. Belcher in March 2012. During his installation address, Belcher identified raising funds for endowed scholarships as the top philanthropic priority for WCU.

WCU Homecoming Parade & Activities

Western Carolina University will hold its homecoming parade Friday, Oct. 24, in downtown Sylva.The parade begins at 6:15 p.m., and university alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends are invited to cheer as community and student floats, Catamount cheerleaders, the Homecoming Court and the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band march and roll down Main Street.
The parade will start at Mark Watson Park and march toward downtown Sylva along Main Street. As parade participants reach the east Main and Mill street intersection, a Sylva police officer will determine which floats continue straight or turn onto Mill Street, depending on their size. Floats that cannot make the turn will continue to Jackson Paper to turn around.

Starting at 6:10 p.m., Main Street traffic will be diverted at the old Rescue Squad building onto Dillsboro Road. Westbound traffic into town will be stopped at Speedy’s and rerouted onto Municipal Drive.

WCU will celebrate with events that include a professional step show performance, golf tournament and football game against The Citadel.
This year’s theme is “Cheers to 125 Years of Catamount Pride!,” a tip of the hat to 2014 being the 125th anniversary of WCU’s founding.
Activities set for Thursday include the “Last Lecture” delivered by Lisa Briggs, WCU associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, at 4 p.m. in the theater of the University Center. The annual event honors a WCU faculty member who has been recognized by students for teaching with great passion and enthusiasm. Briggs, who holds two degrees from WCU, will address the topic “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Please Help Guide Us Through it All.”

Later today, Catamount fans will gather for the Spirit Night pep rally at Central Plaza. The 6 p.m. event will feature a free cookout and appearances by the cheerleaders, dance team, Homecoming court, athletic teams and pep band.

Activities on Saturday, Oct. 25, will begin with the Chancellor’s Brunch and Alumni Awards Ceremony from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Grandroom of the University Center. Honorees include Robert Edwards, WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance, Distinguished Service Award; and Jarrett Frazier, ingest coordinator in video controls for NBC Sports in Stamford, Conn., Young Alumnus Award. Football tailgating will begin at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25, and Catamount fans will gather at E.J. Whitmire Stadium at 2 p.m. Halftime activities will include recognition of the Homecoming award winners and court, plus an announcement of this year’s Homecoming king and queen. Tickets to the game are available from the WCU athletics ticket office at 800-344-6928.

For more information about Homecoming events, visit homecoming.wcu.edu or contact WCU’s Alumni Affairs office.

WCU faculty to discuss Ebola crisis risk and response at Nov. 4 event

A panel of Western Carolina University faculty members, including an environmental health professor who has studied the spread and control of infectious agents such as Ebola for more than two decades, will take part in a discussion about the virus on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Part of WCU’s Global Spotlight Series, the event will be held in the auditorium of the Forsyth Building from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Faculty members Burton Ogle, Jen Schiff, Rebecca Dobbs and Saheed Aderinto will offer environmental health, political, geographic and historical perspectives of Ebola based on their expertise and participate in a question-and-answer session.

Ogle, director of WCU’s environmental health program, will discuss the risk of exposure and transmission of Ebola and prevention strategies. Ogle was consulted 25 years ago when a strain of Ebola was detected in monkeys in Reston, Virginia, and has researched the virus and the connection to infectious disease transmission protection and bioterrorism preparedness.

The primary transmission of Ebola is through direct contact with bodily fluids such as urine and blood and waste material such as feces, and the country’s health care facilities follow protocols that assume people are carriers of infectious disease and thus take action such as wearing protective clothing, masks, eye protection, gloves and other gear to reduce the risk of transmission, Ogle said.

“In the U.S., we have very little chance of contracting the disease,” he said.

Ogle anticipates there will be more isolated “travelers cases” similar to the recent situation in which a man who was exposed to Ebola in Liberia and traveled to Texas was diagnosed in the United States with Ebola. He died Oct. 8. Despite dozens of people having contact with the man and continuing to be monitored for symptoms by health authorities, as of Wednesday, Oct. 15, only two people – nurses who treated him directly – have been diagnosed with Ebola. An investigation is under way to discover how they were exposed and how safety could be further enhanced at all health care facilities to prevent such exposure.

Schiff, an assistant professor of political science and public affairs, will discuss which countries and organizations are supporting humanitarian efforts to help stop the spread of Ebola. In addition, she will speak about “why shutting down the borders won’t necessarily solve the problem,” and could do more long-term damage to countries battling the spread of Ebola and efforts to halt the spread of the virus, she said.

Dobbs, an instructor of geography, will talk about spatial patterns of the current Ebola outbreak and past outbreaks, the role of environmental changes such as deforestation and climate change in the current outbreak, and geographic considerations associated with human travel and interaction.

“Both local and global conditions matter in understanding the origin of the outbreak and its potential for broader diffusion,” said Dobbs.

Aderinto, an assistant professor of history with expertise in African history who is a native of Nigeria, will discuss the spread of Ebola in the context of African’s underdevelopment – a process he traces to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“The entrenchment of epidemic diseases, whether Ebola or HIV/AIDS, are obvious manifestations of poor medical facilities, illiteracy, politicization of knowledge, poverty across ethnicity, social class, gender and generation – all of which should be traced to colonialism, neo-colonialism and the corruption of African leaders,” said Aderinto. “Ebola – like HIV/AIDS – hit the poorest countries in Africa really hard because disease and disease control cannot be understood in isolation from the broader crisis of underdevelopment.”

David Dorondo, an associate professor of history with expertise in European military and political history and one of the panel organizers, said Ebola also is important in the discussion of national security, which is increasingly defined in terms broader than traditional military terms.

“Issues such as climate change, epidemic – or even pandemic – disease, water shortages, uncontrolled migration and others are appearing ever more frequently in the calculations of governments and the leadership of their armed forces,” he said.

Today’s armed forces are involved in supporting civilian aid agencies and humanitarian efforts including the fight to stop Ebola, and the reduction of military budgets in recent years could “hamstring some of the most effective ways to get massive aid to faraway places in rapid fashion,” he said.

The Global Spotlight Series is organized by Dorondo, Schiff and Niall Michelsen, associate professor of political science and public affairs.

Info: Michelsen (828) 227-3336.

WCU social work program receives $1.1 million federal grant

Western Carolina University’s social work program is the recipient of a federal grant of more than $1.1 million to expand the number of social workers qualified to practice in the areas of substance abuse prevention and behavioral health in Cherokee and other underserved areas of Western North Carolina.

The grant, totaling $1,177,354 and to be awarded to WCU over a three-year period, is from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Working in collaboration with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Center for Native Health, the university will receive $321,764 in the initiative’s first year, $420,902 in its second year and $424,688 in the third year.

The grant will provide up to $10,000 in individual stipends to students in WCU’s master’s degree program in social work who plan to serve the behavioral health needs of the people of WNC. It is designed to produce social workers with the skills to prevent and intervene in the high-risk behaviors of youth by using a family-focused health care model that is sensitive to the culture and needs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and other youth populations across the rural Southern Appalachians, said Pat Morse, head of the social work department and director of WCU’s graduate program in social work.

“It is a pleasure and honor to collaborate with the Center for Native Health, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the behavioral health services agencies across Western North Carolina on this important project,” said Morse.

Douglas Keskula, dean of WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences, said the grant will fund an innovative project that will contribute to promoting, supporting and sustaining a much-needed behavioral health workforce in Cherokee and across the mountain region.

“This will be an exciting project for the university and for the region we serve,” Keskula said. “This initiative will provide critical behavioral health services to a medically underserved region while providing an exceptional educational experience for our students. This is a tremendous opportunity for collaboration between WCU, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and regional providers with the shared goal of building and training the behavioral health workforce of the future.”

The funding marks the 13th grant awarded by federal or regional agencies for research conducted by faculty in WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences to date since the 2012 fiscal year, with nearly $6 million in grants for projects ranging from improving diversity in the region’s nursing workforce to health care assessment for older adults.

Governor McCrory to Visit WCU

Jackson County residents can expect a visit from the Governor on Friday.  N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory will be visiting WCU to deliver remarks to the Board of Governors during its regular monthly meeting, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday in the Grandroom of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. Other activities scheduled for that meeting are the presentation of a major WCU award to a Western North Carolina political leader and a special 125th anniversary presentation.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors, the 32-member policy-making body for the entire UNC system, will be gathering on WCU’s campus in Cullowhee on Wednesday through Friday (Sept. 10-12) for a series of meetings and activities. Board members and UNC President Tom Ross are coming to WCU in honor of the 125th anniversary of WCU’s founding.

 

Another Record Enrollment at WCU

One year after total student enrollment at Western Carolina University topped 10,000 for the first time in the institution’s history, records continue to tumble at WCU as this fall’s official enrollment stands at 10,382.

 University officials say the 2.7 percent jump in the total student population over last year’s tally of 10,107 is driven in part by an increase in the size of the freshman class and another year of improved retention rates.

 That’s the word from WCU’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, which compiles official census statistics for reporting to the University of North Carolina system.

Western Carolina University Welcomes Freshmen On Move In Day

DSC_0067Thousands of moms, dads, grandparents and siblings ascended upon Western Carolina University on Friday to help their freshmen move into the dorms. The move in process begin at 7 am and continued into the late afternoon. The system was ran like a well oiled machine. Traffic patterns were easily laid out around the campus with public safety and volunteers assisting with directing those moving in. Faculty, staff and student volunteers were there to assist the families.

Indicators are pointing to another all-time high in student enrollment, and WCU should exceed last year’s record enrollment of 10,107. Also, WCU anticipate that they will  surpass last year’s first-year student enrollment of 1,614, and could even see an entering class of 1,700 or more. The official fall enrollment will be established Friday, Aug. 29, which is the 10th class day and the census date as specified by the University of North Carolina General Administration.

A week of activities has been planned to welcome all the students for the 2014-15 academic year, including WCU’s annual Valley Ballyhoo celebration Saturday, Aug. 16. More than 5,000 WCU students typically attend Valley Ballyhoo each year to enjoy the festivities and visit information tables hosted by campus and community organizations.

Professional Development Offered to Area Math Teachers

A team of Western Carolina University faculty members and Western North Carolina mathematics teachers are establishing the Smoky Mountain Math Teachers’ Circle, a professional development community to help teachers bring new excitement and interest in mathematics to their students.

The American Institute of Mathematics announced the formation of the new circle, which is part of AIM’s network of Math Teachers’ Circles. The circles regularly bring together mathematicians and mathematics teachers to work collaboratively on problems specially selected to intrigue participants and enhance their problem-solving skills and mathematical content knowledge. The gatherings aim to help teachers find more ways to incorporate problem solving, a key part of student learning and engagement in mathematics, into their classrooms through enriching their own experience of mathematics.

The new Smoky Mountain Math Teachers’ Circle will be open to teachers from Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Several pilot sessions will be hosted at WCU during the 2014-15 academic year in advance of a summer immersion retreat next year.

Organizers may explore developing additional circles for elementary and high school teachers in the future and expanding to more counties.

The AIM Math Teachers’ Circle Network began in 2006 when 25 middle school mathematics teachers and five professional mathematicians from the San Francisco Bay Area came together for an intense week of work. The success led to the establishment of circles across the country. The program is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Society of America, the Educational Advancement Foundation, Math for America, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.

WCU Named Top Adventure School

Results from an online poll have been tallied, and Western Carolina University has been announced as the No. 1 college for outdoor adventure in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic by a leading outdoors magazine.

Western Carolina captured the title of “top adventure college” over the second-place school, Garrett College in Maryland, following several rounds of voting in which WCU also came out on top against Emory University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Virginia Tech and Appalachian State. Representatives of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine said that more than 115,000 visitors to its website cast votes during the competition held earlier this summer, and results are listed in the publication’s new August issue.

In her story about the poll results, magazine staff member Jess Daddio wrote that “WCU’s stunning campus is home to some serious adventure. Both the Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) department and the Base Camp Cullowheeouting program offer students a chance to get the quintessential experiential education experience.”

Base Camp Cullowhee has long offered dozens of outdoor recreation trips for students and equipment rental, but in recent years the staff has increased its experiential education services to integrate outdoor activities with students’ classroom curriculum, said Josh Whitmore, WCU’s associate director of outdoor programs. “For example, a professor might approach us about including a climbing wall session, a group development team-building activity or a guided hike to a geologic feature in a class,” Whitmore said.

When it comes to total student participation in Base Camp’s programming, numbers have skyrocketed in the last decade, Whitmore said. “When I first started here nearly 10 years ago, we would run about 300 to 400 touches (student participations) for a year, and we have about 7,000 to 8,000 now,” he said. The growth has followed along with improvements in the university’s recreational facilities, such as the indoor climbing wall at the Campus Recreation Center, which sometimes averages up to 800 student visits per month, he said. Also, WCU’s on-campus trail system – with seven miles of pathway for mountain biking, hiking and running – opened last year.

A decade ago, the Base Camp staff included Whitmore and about half a dozen student workers, but now it takes three full-time staffers and 20 to 25 students to keep the outdoor program going, he said.

Accordingly, the university’s reputation among the general public and prospective students as an epicenter of outdoor adventure has grown over the years, Whitmore said. “Certainly, the mountain lifestyle is a big draw for folks. This (“top adventure college” title) is a big part of building that reputation and will help with that for sure.”

In its rundown of the top eight vote-getting schools, the magazine also included profiles of two accomplished alumni from each institution. WCU’s featured students, both graduates of the Parks and Recreation Management Program, are Glenville native Bobby Bryson and Laurinburg native William Butler. Bryson is now a captain for the Charlotte Fire Department, and as a member of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team, takes part in search and rescue operations that utilize Blackhawk helicopters for swift-water, flood, urban and wilderness rescue. Butler is an educational technician for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and in that position he introduces visitors to outdoor adventure and educates them about using the wilderness responsibly.

In addition to parks and recreation management, other academic programs offered by WCU for students interested in careers in the outdoors are forest resourceshospitality and tourism and natural resource conservation and management.

Blue Ridge Outdoors’ coverage of the “top adventure college” competition is available online at http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/biking/alumni-souths-best-adventure-colleges/.

WCU to Host Political Debates

Candidates vying for elected office in three races to be decided by Western North Carolina voters in November have agreed to take part in a series of debates sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.

The WCU Political Debate Series will begin Thursday, Sept. 4, with opponents for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 – incumbent Mark Meadows (R-Jackson) and challenger Tom Hill (D-Henderson). The debate will be held in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus.

Next up Tuesday, Sept. 23, will be the candidates in the N.C. House of Representatives District 19 race pitting incumbent Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) against Mike Clampitt (R-Swain). The debate will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building on WCU’s West Campus.

Wrapping up the series Thursday, Oct. 2, will be the contenders for the N.C. Senate District 50 seat, with incumbent Jim Davis (R-Macon) and opponent Jane Hipps (D-Haywood). That debate also will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building.

All debates will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live online by WLOS-TV on www.wlos.com. All three debates are open to the public free of charge.

Topics discussed during each of the debates will be selected from questions submitted in advance to the PPI. Questions should be submitted by Friday, Aug. 15, to receive priority consideration. Questions must be submitted by registered voters in the district, should be emailed to ppi@wcu.edu, and must include the name of the sender and the county of residence.

Todd Collins, associate professor of political science and public affairs, and director of the Public Policy Institute, said that hosting the debates is in keeping with WCU’s mission as a regional comprehensive institution.

“As a regionally engaged university, we are excited to offer citizens in our area the opportunity to learn more about the candidates through our debate series,” Collins said. “We encourage all voters to learn about the issues and the candidates, to participate in the debates by submitting questions, to watch the debates in person or online, and to make an informed choice when they go to the polls in November.”

Tickets for WCU’s Mainstage season go on sale Aug. 6

The students and faculty of Western Carolina University’s School of Stage and Screen soon will raise the curtain for their Mainstage season for the 2014-15 academic year.

The playbill includes two plays and two musicals. Season subscriptions and individual tickets for the productions will go on sale Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the box office in WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The Mainstage season will kick off in October with “Elemeno Pea,” a comedy written by Molly Smith Metzler and directed by D.V. Caitlyn, a professor in the School of Stage and Screen. The play, exploring the themes of status, ambition, regret, mistakes and life-defining choices, contains adult language and content.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, through Saturday, Oct. 4, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on Oct. 4, at Hoey Auditorium.

The next production on the playbill is the musical “42nd Street,” book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, and lyrics and music by Al Dubin and Harry Warren. The production will be directed by Terrence Mann, WCU’s Phillips Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre, with assistance from music director Katya Stanislavskaya and choreographer Karyn Tomczak. Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes, the musical follows an aspiring chorus girl on her journey through Broadway. Music will include “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “We’re in the Money” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, through Saturday, Nov. 15, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 16, at the Bardo Arts Center.

The season also includes the musical comedy/horror production “The Rocky Horror Show” in February. Written by Richard O’Brien, the musical will be directed by Mann with help from music director Stanislavskaya. The sci-fi gothic musical about a transvestite and his motley crew includes audience participation and cascading toilet paper. The New York Times said the musical “that deals with mutating identity and time warps becomes one of the most mutated, time-warped phenomena in show business.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, through Saturday, Feb. 21, plus a special showing at 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 21, at Hoey Auditorium.

Director Brenda Lilly of WCU’s School of Stage and Screen will present J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan: The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” in April. The fantasy play follows the adventures of Peter, Wendy, Michael and John in Neverland. This new adaptation of the classic play that will be performed at WCU is based on the work of John Caird and Trevor Nunn, who researched and restored Barrie’s original intentions. The London Times considers the play “a national masterpiece.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, through Saturday, April 18, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 19, at the Bardo Arts Center.

Subscriptions for the musicals and plays are available Wednesday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 28, and are priced at $50 for adults, $40 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $20 for students.

Individual tickets for the two musicals, “42nd Street” and “The Rocky Horror Show,” are $21 for adults, $16 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $7 (in advance) and $10 (day of show) for students.

Individual tickets for the two plays, “Elemeno Pea” and “Peter Pan,” are $16 for adults, $11 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $7 (in advance) and $10 (day of show) for students.

Preceding the regular Mainstage season is the special event “Through the Looking Glass: Celebrating 125 Years of Arts at WCU.” Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan Belcher will host this celebration of the arts throughout the university’s 125-year history. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the Bardo Arts Center. WCU Friends of the Arts can reserve seats through Friday, Aug. 22, when remaining seats will be released to the general public. Reservations are required for this event.

Following the regular Mainstage season is the seventh annual Controlled Chaos Film Festival. The event, which will feature the best films written, directed and produced by students in WCU’s Film and Television Production Program, is set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 1, at the Bardo Arts Center. All seats are $10, with cash only accepted at the door.

For more information about the Mainstage season and the two special events, contact WCU’s School of Stage and Screen at 828-227-7491. To order season subscriptions and individual tickets, call the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.