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WCU Grant To Increase Nursing Care in WNC

A federal workforce diversity grant of more than $1 million will enable the School of Nursing at Western Carolina University to partner with Mission Health in an effort to increase the quality of nursing care provided to patients in rural Western North Carolina.

The funding marks the second $1 million grant awarded to WCU in the past year that is intended to improve the diversity and quality of nursing professionals in the region.

The latest grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide approximately $350,000 annually over a three-year period to create a program designed to increase the number of nurses with four-year degrees working in mountain hospitals and health care settings.

The project will support development of nurses qualified as “advanced rural generalists” competent in meeting a variety of health care needs across diverse specialties and in different health care settings. The program will include courses addressing the unique health care needs found in the rural environment.

The project will focus on registered nurses with two-year degrees who are ethnic minorities and/or from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds who work at the Mission Hospital campus in Asheville or at its rural affiliate hospitals – Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. It will provide scholarships, stipends and mentorship opportunities to allow them to receive the additional education and training offered by obtaining their bachelor’s degrees.

Participants in the project are expected to include people of African-American, Native American, Hispanic and Appalachian descent – segments of the population that typically seek advanced education at lower numbers than the rest of the population.

WCU has been at the forefront of efforts to increase the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees in North Carolina. The Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses Program – or RIBN – started as a partnership between WCU, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and the Foundation for Nursing Excellence six years ago. The program allows students to be dually accepted and enrolled in both the university and a community college. Since its inception, the program has expanded across the state, with seven universities and 30 community colleges now involved.

WCU Listed as Top Performing Arts Center

The John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University was recently included on a list of “The 25 Most Amazing University Performing Arts Centers” by the website BestValueSchools.com.

The website authors listed the Bardo Arts Center at No. 19 and said the facility “combines a state-of-the-art space with a naturally beautiful setting to promote the arts and arts education throughout the region.”

The Bardo Arts Center, which houses WCU’s School of Art and Design, opened in 2005 with a performance by Jay Leno of NBC’s “Tonight Show.” The facility includes a 1,000-seat performance hall that provides a venue for visiting performers and entertainers, and it also houses WCU’s Fine Art Museum, widely considered to be the premiere showcase for contemporary art in Western North Carolina.

Greenway Bridge Gets Approval

The Tuckaseigee River Green-way got a significant boost Monday night when the Commissioners gave approval for the acquisition of a $304,000 pedestrian bridge to cross the Tuckaseigee River to the Green-way from the parking lot at the Rolling Green. The paving of the Green-way path is expected to be completed by the end of May, but it will take several months to complete the installation of the bridge. The Commissioners have heard numerous comments over the past months about the costs factors and the design of the bridge but when it came time to vote the commissioners decided to go to the more decorative design. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, “since this bridge is going to be a landmark and staple for a long long time we prefer it to be attractive. We only have one time to buy a bridge and over time the small difference in the price makes it a good decision.” Once completed the Green-way will offer foot traffic and recreational access from the Rolling Green area to the University.

Galaxy of the Stars Series Returns to WCU

Western_Carolina_University_seal The Galaxy of Stars Series at Western Carolina University will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a lineup highlighted by a return engagement of country-western icons Riders in the Sky, a Grammy Award-winning group that performed during the inaugural season of the series.

The only professional entertainment series in Jackson County, the series debuted in 2005, with all performances taking place in the 900-seat John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The 2014-15 schedule comprises:

Riders in the Sky, 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 – Back by popular the band, the group founded in 1977 and featured in the motion picture “Toy Story” is known for its award-winning harmonies, wacky cowboy wit and high-yodeling adventures.

“Broadway’s Next Hit Musical,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 – “Broadway’s Next Hit Musical” is billed as “the only unscripted theatrical awards show,” as master improvisers gather made-up hit song suggestions from the audience to create a spontaneous evening of music and humor.

“Cinnamon GRITS: Christmas in the South,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12 – A follow-up to the popular show “GRITS: The Musical,” this production is a mix of storytelling and music that provides a Southern-style look at the holidays.

Elvis impersonator Travis Ledoyt, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 – Hailed by critics as “the world’s best young Elvis,” Travis Ledoyt captures the music and moves of Elvis Presley in his prime in a show that focuses on the hits and ambience of the era from 1954 through 1959.

“Man 1, Bank 0,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 – Patrick Combs tells the true story of a man who deposited a junk-mail check labeled “non-negotiable” into a bank account only to see things erupt into an adventure pitting a “David” regular guy against the “Goliath” of the banking industry.

Ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger and comedian Glenn Singer, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 – Comedienne and ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger incorporates audience participation into her show that features a trunk full of zany characters as Glenn Singer supplies visual comedy using optical illusions.

“We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered,” 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26 – Vocalist Michelle Berting Britt, accompanied by a seven-piece Nashville band, re-creates the original easy listening sound of the Carpenters, one of the most successful recording acts of all time.

Western_Carolina_University_sealThe Galaxy of Stars Series is presented by the WCU College of Fine and Performing Arts with support from the WCU Friends of the Arts organization.

Season subscriptions go on sale Monday, May 5, offering substantial savings over individual ticket prices. Patrons can enjoy all seven shows in the season for $120 for adults and $45 for students and children. Subscriptions for WCU faculty and staff are available for $110.

Subscriptions allow patrons to select and keep preferred seats and also are an affordable way for families to enjoy live entertainment, said Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Arts Center.

Single-show tickets for the 2014-15 series go on sale Aug. 12. Those prices are $21 for adults; $16 for WCU faculty and staff; and $7 for students and children. Ticket prices are $15 per person for groups of 20 or more.

For tickets or more information about Galaxy of Stars events, contact the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.

Mountain Heritage Day Seeking Arts and Crafts People

food-contest-for-webArtists and crafts people are being sought to participate in the 40th annual Mountain Heritage Day, Western Carolina University’s annual fall festival of traditional Appalachian culture.

Mountain Heritage Day will be held Saturday, Sept. 27, on the WCU campus in Cullowhee – always the last Saturday of the month. The festival typically attracts more than 20,000 visitors who come to enjoy three stages of continuous music and dance, exhibitions of Cherokee stickball and shape-note singing, a midway of juried arts and crafts, and a variety of festival food.

This year, the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary in conjunction with the university’s 125th year.

The festival arts and crafts are judged for quality of workmanship, booth display and design. Cash awards will be presented to the vendors with the best works. All applicants are juried except the previous year’s winners of the arts and crafts awards.

Applications and instructions for arts and crafts vendors are available on the festival website, www.mountainheritageday.com

WCU Sees Record Breaking Graduation Rates

Western_Carolina_University_sealSurging enrollments has boosted the number of graduates in WCU’s spring class. It has nearly doubled in the last 11 years.

After all the scores from final exams are tallied and academic records are finalized, WCU’s spring class, including recipients of both undergraduate and graduate degrees, is expected to total about 1,385 graduates, which would be the largest class in university history and 45 more graduates than were in last year’s record spring class.

Western Carolina University will host a trio of commencement ceremonies over a two-day period, Friday and Saturday May 9-10 at the Ramsey Center. The university’s commencement ceremonies are open to the public with no limit on the number of family, friends and guests invited by each graduate.

Seeking Community Leadership Nominations

Western_Carolina_University_sealThe Coulter Regional Leadership Program and the Cherokee Right Path Adult Leadership Program are both seeking nominations.

The Coulter Regional Leadership Program is accepting nominations for participation in the 2014-15 program. This 12-month leadership program is for adults ages 25-55 years of age who have some involvement in community activities and have the potential to become dynamic leaders.

Nominees must reside in the counties of Haywood, Macon, Jackson, Swain, Clay, Cherokee, Graham, or the Qualla Boundary. Persons wishing to nominate can go to wnclead.wcu.edu and download the nomination form.

Deadline for submission: Letters of nomination will be accepted until 5 p.m. on June 15

Rabbit Creek Pottery Wins Dillsboro Business Competition

After four months of suspense and tough competition Anne Burrell who operates Rabbit Creek Pottery in Dillsboro was proclaimed the winner of the $5000.00 business development grant competition. The award was announced Thursday at Southwestern Community College. Ms Burrell told WRGC News that they grant would turn their business around. They will now be able to install their Kiln and expand inventory and operations. When asked about the uniqueness of their pottery style, she said that each of the potters in Dillsboro offers a different style which makes the town attractive because of the diversity. The contest has been a collaborative effort among SCC WCU, Dillsboro, and local sponsors. The contestants went through an extensive application process, attended numerous small business management and entrepreneurial classes, developed a a business operational document including a plan for business operations, management team, capitalization, management team, legal ramifications, start-up, and employees. The winner also had a limited time to get their business operational in Dillsboro. Rabbit Creek Pottery was already open for business but were eligible for the competition because they had been open for only a short time before the competition started. In addition to Rabbit Creek pottery the other top two contestants were John Fault and Megan Orr who proposed a Dillsboro event shuttle service, and Anthony Brown who proposed a water park similar to a venue near Benson, NC which pulls skiers through the water with zip lines. Mayor Mike Fitzgerald gave Rabbit Creek Pottery a welcome to Dillsboro, and Tommy Dennison with the WCU Small Business Center who helped with the contest was happy with the intensity of the process and felt that the judges made an excellent decision. Mayor Fitzgerald said the other top finishers in the competition would have their privilege license fee waived if they opened their business in Dillsboro this year.

Sneek Peek At WCU Facility

WCU Facility ConstructionWestern Carolina University will host a “sneak peek” Wednesday, April 16, of the soon-to-be-opened laboratories and classrooms that will enable the expansion of WCU’s undergraduate engineering program to the Asheville-Hendersonville area.  Nearly 11,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of a building located in Biltmore Park Town Square is undergoing renovations to accommodate the expanded engineering program, with classes scheduled to get underway in August. Expansion of WCU’s engineering degree was made possible through more than $1.4 million in the state budget. The N.C. General Assembly approved roughly $700,000 dollars for start-up costs and laboratory equipment for the 2013-14 fiscal year, with nearly $720,000 in recurring funds to cover faculty positions and ongoing operations. Western Carolina began offering the bachelor of science degree in engineering in the fall 2012 at its campus in Cullowhee as a new stand-alone program. The university had partnered with UNC Charlotte to jointly offer a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from 2004 until 2012. The open house will from 4 until 6 p.m on the 16th and will enable guests to observe renovation work at the facility, followed by a reception and optional tour of WCU’s existing instructional site at Biltmore Park.

WCU Student Killed in Car Accident In Greensboro

A 22-year-old Western Carolina University student was killed in an automobile accident Thursday night in Greensboro. According My Fox 8 TV News In Greensboro the student was killed when her car was hit head on by a driver driving west on the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the Wendover Avenue exit around ten fifteen last night. The student has been identified as 22-year-old Reagan Hartley who was scheduled to graduate next month from Western Carolina University with her degree in elementary education. Hartley was from the town of Willow Springs NC and a 2010 graduate from West Johnston High School. She was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.
The driver of the S U V has been identified as 46-year-old Ronnie Fichera. Police said Fichera entered Greensboro on I-40, exited the interstate at the High Point Road exit leading officers around Four Seasons Mall and reentered the interstate again driving west in the eastbound lanes. He struck the convertible about a mile down the highway. Greensboro police were not involved in the pursuit but are investigating the crash. Units were called to assist when Randleman Police initiated the pursuit. “It’s a tragedy, there’s no way around that,” Lt. C.M. Shultheis said. “I don’t know what goes through a drivers mind when they are trying to elude police. I don’t know what the level of impairment was, the driver may not have realized he was going the wrong way.”
540 A-M WRGC Radio shares the grief with the entire University family with the death of this aspiring teacher who is described by her student teaching supervisor “as having all the qualities for being a really great elementary school teacher.”

WCU Publishes Study

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University researchers have completed a comprehensive study of major demographic, economic, social and political issues and trends facing Western North Carolina, releasing their findings in a 2014 Regional Outlook Report designed to equip residents and policymakers with the information needed to make informed decisions about WNC’s future. The report is based on in-depth analysis of existing economic and demographic data and on responses to a telephone survey last summer, with nearly 900 randomly selected respondents contacted via both wireless and landline numbers. The 2014 report represents the third installment in a series of reports compiled by a multidisciplinary team of researchers – Kathleen M. Brennan, associate professor of sociology; Christopher A. Cooper, associate professor of political science and political affairs; and Inhyuck “Steve” Ha, associate professor of economics. Among their findings: Although the population of WNC continues to grow, the rate of growth has slowed, with much of the increase in population the result of migration to the region from other parts of the nation. Since 1990, racial minority populations have increased, with the Hispanic/Latino population now the largest racial minority in WNC, followed by African-Americans. Compared to five years ago, fewer respondents report that they own their own place of residence, and more respondents say they are living with family or friends without contributing to rent or mortgage payments. Most Western North Carolinians are satisfied with health care in the region; however, more than half of respondents disagree with the statement that health care is affordable. The majority of respondents say they are “fairly satisfied” with education in the region, expressing the highest level of support for higher education. Only about one-third, however, say higher education in the region is affordable. The majority of respondents support land-use planning, and more than half of respondents support policies restricting ridge-top and steep-slope development. Most respondents do not have a high level of trust in government, with the federal government receiving the lowest marks. Many issues show stark contrasts between the opinions of native Western North Carolinians and those who are newcomers to the region. Buncombe County residents often demonstrate unique patterns from residents of other counties of WNC. In 2012, the top three industries in WNC were manufacturing (28 percent), finance/insurance/real estate (16 percent) and services (15 percent). Manufacturing accounted for more than one-quarter of total economic production in 2012. Between 2000 and 2010, approximately 50.6 percent of jobs in the region’s manufacturing industry were lost. During that same time span, most new job creation occurred in the education sector (with a 66.6 percent increase in new jobs) and real estate (a 58.8 percent increase). Counties included in the survey are Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. The complete report is available online at regionalreport2014.wcu.edu. A follow-up report examining the economic impact of Western Carolina University on the region is expected to be delivered at a major conference on economic development to be held in October on the WCU campus.

WCU Rescheduled Open House

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University will throw open its doors to prospective students and their families and friends as the university holds Open House on Saturday, April 5. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admission, Open House gives visitors a chance to learn about the university’s wide array of academic programs, find out the important details of topics such as financial aid, and tour the campus. The April 5 event was added to the university’s spring schedule after an Open House scheduled for February was canceled due to inclement weather. Because of the many events occurring on campus on April 5, the Open House that day will begin at noon. The schedule starts with an academic and student services information fair from noon to 1:30 p.m. around the concourse of WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center. Following a welcome session in the Ramsey Center main arena from 1:30 to 2 p.m., prospective students will have a chance to engage in academic sessions led by WCU faculty members from 2:15 to 3 p.m. Visitors can choose among several options for the 3 to 5 p.m. period, including tours of campus and residence halls, information sessions on admissions and financial aid, and participation in campus events. For interested students who cannot attend Open House on April 5, campus tours also are available year-round by appointment for students and their families. Preregistration for Open House and more information are available by going to the website openhouse.wcu.edu or by calling the Office of Undergraduate Admission at 828-227-7317 or toll-free 877-928-4968.

WCU Telescope Viewing Party

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics will host an evening telescope viewing party beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, at the Jackson County Airport overlooking the WCU campus. Part of the 2014 North Carolina Science Festival, the event is designed to give members of the campus and surrounding communities an up-close view of stars, the moon and the planets Mars and Jupiter through telescopes at various magnifications. The viewing is open free of charge, and members of the public are welcome to bring their own telescopes. In the event the evening is overcast, the viewing will be canceled. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly. For more information about the viewing call 828) 227-2718.

WCU Renovations Moves Ahead

Buchanan Building

Buchanan Building

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees has given its unanimous approval to allow university officials to proceed with planning and design for renovations and additions to Buchanan Residence Hall and Brown Building in the historic upper part of the Cullowhee campus. Work on the 56-year-old Buchanan Residence Hall will include renovation of existing space, which now provides 180 beds, and an addition of space for 300 beds to create an updated residence facility with 480 beds. The project is currently authorized with a $48 million price tag, but actual construction cost estimates will not be available until advance planning and initial design is complete.

WCU “Dash In Disguise” 5K

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University will host the “Dash In Disguise 5-K and fun run March 29th. The run encourages participants to wear a costume. The fun run starts at 10 a.m. and the 5-K at 11 a.m. near A.K. Hinds University Center. Racers should arrive an hour early to check-in for the event. The cost to participate in the 5-K is $15 for students and $20 for all others. The fun run will be $5 for children. Prizes include gift cards to local eateries and will be awarded in categories such as best dressed and fastest time. Proceeds from the event, which is sponsored by WCU’s Department of Physical Therapy, will benefit the Good Samaritan Clinic along with others. To pre-register CLICK HERE For more information, contact physical therapy student Chris Garcia at cjgarcia1@catamount.wcu.edu

WCU’s Online Programs Receives High Marks

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University’s online master’s degree programs in human resources and project management have received high national rankings in affordability and “Best Buy” designations from the distance education information clearinghouse GetEducated.com. WCU’s human resources program was ranked No. 3 in affordability following a national survey of 37 regionally accredited higher education institutions that offer online master’s degrees in that academic field, said Melissa Eubank, director of information services for GetEducated.com. The survey showed that the average cost of an online master’s degree in human resources nationwide is about $23,500. The cost of WCU’s program is $9,339 for North Carolina residents. Earlier this year, GetEducated.com gave WCU’s online bachelor’s degree program in entrepreneurship a No. 2 national ranking in affordability. Other WCU online master’s programs that have received high rankings from the clearinghouse in recent years are nurse educator, nurse administration and health sciences.

Demolition Begins

WCU Business Strip

WCU Business Strip

NEO Corporation began demolition on three fire-damaged restaurants – Subway, Mad Batter and Rolling Stone Burrito – on the WCU campus Tuesday afternoon while students are on spring break. The University Endowment Fund, which owns the buildings on the campus commercial strip, has decided against rebuilding, which officials said is cost-prohibitive, and plans to construct a mixed-use commercial/residential facility in its place.

WCU To Hold Open House

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University will welcome prospective students and their families and friends to campus as the university holds Open House on Saturday, March 22. Open House gives visitors a chance to tour the campus, learn about the university’s wide array of academic programs, and find out the important details of topics such as financial aid. For interested students who cannot attend the March 22 event, campus tours also are available year-round by appointment for students and their families. For more info call 828-227-7317.

WCU Dean Of Construction Management

James Zhang

James Zhang

James Zhang, dean of Western Carolina University’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology since October 2012, will be stepping down from the post in May to become provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Kettering University in Flint, Mich. Zhang will be joining another former Kimmel School dean, Robert McMahan, who is serving as Kettering’s president. After McMahan’s departure in summer 2011, Zhang served as interim dean of the Kimmel School until his appointment as permanent dean in fall 2012. Kettering University, formerly General Motors Institute, is known for its top-ranked undergraduate programs in engineering, mathematics, science and business. “Kettering is getting a proven leader with an extensive track record in the field of engineering education and project-based learning,” said WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar. “James is leaving the Kimmel School stronger than he found it. The school is well-positioned for the future, with rising student enrollments, the expansion of the engineering program to the Biltmore Park facility, and the strengthening of partnerships with community colleges across Western North Carolina.” Morrison-Shetlar said a national search for a new dean to lead the Kimmel School will begin immediately. Under Zhang’s leadership, WCU’s Kimmel School won approval in February 2012 from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to offer the bachelor of science degree in engineering, a strategic step in the university’s efforts to help meet the needs of WNC business and industry. The stand-alone BSE program, which began in the fall of 2012, developed from a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering (the BSEE) that WCU had offered jointly with UNC Charlotte since 2004. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated $1.4 million to WCU last year for the expansion of its undergraduate engineering program to Biltmore Park Town Square, located in the fast-growing corridor between Asheville and Hendersonville, to help meet increasing industry and business demand for a highly qualified workforce. Zhang joined the WCU faculty in 2003 with more than 10 years of industry experience in electrical engineering research, development and management, and was named associate dean in 2008. From 2009 to 2010, he also served as interim head of the Department of Construction Management. Zhang holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, master’s degrees in telecommunications and electrical engineering and a doctorate in electrical engineering.  During his tenure at WCU, he has generated more than 50 publications. He also holds seven U.S. and international patents. The Kimmel School is home to the Department of Construction Management, Department of Engineering and Technology, and Center for Rapid Product Realization. The “engagement arm” of the Kimmel School, the Rapid Center provides technical assistance to companies, organizations and entrepreneurs through faculty expertise and hands-on learning activities for students.

WCU Masters Degree Program

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University’s master’s degree program in business administration is hosting a series of information sessions for prospective students in Asheville, Cherokee, Cullowhee and Franklin. Kelly McIntyre, graduate programs manager for WCU’s College of Business, will lead the sessions and discuss the advantages of WCU’s “hands-on” MBA, which focuses on the unique challenges facing Western North Carolina and its economy. The program accepts both part-time and full-time students, and the degree can be completed in 34 months on a part-time track or 16 months on a full-time track. For dates and times of the program visit mba.wcu.edu