Archive for WCU – Page 2

WCU establishing for-profit LLC to spur economic development in WNC

The Western Carolina University College of Business is establishing a new, for-profit limited liability company designed to provide entrepreneurial business, scientific and technical services to help spur economic development activity in Western North Carolina.
Formation of the new entity, authorized earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, was announced Wednesday, April 22, as part of WCU’s inaugural LEAD:Innovation summit. More than 100 entrepreneurs, investors, small business owners and others interested in regional economic development gathered on campus for a conference focused on topics related to entrepreneurship and small businesses.

The new for-profit LLC will replace WCU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which was created in 2007 within the College of Business to serve as a catalyst for the creation of successful entrepreneurial ventures in WNC while providing hands-on learning experiences for WCU students.

The new entity will be wholly owned by the Western Carolina University Research and Development Corporation, which was formed in 2001 for the purpose of aiding and promoting the educational and charitable purposes of WCU.

Once the for-profit entity is fully established, university officials will identify a manager to run its day-to-day operations. Ed Wright, director of the CEI, will be entity’s faculty contact.

Music of the Carpenters to come to life April 26 at WCU’s Bardo Center

The music of one of America’s top-selling duos of all time, the Carpenters, will come to life as Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center plays host to “We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered” on Sunday, April 26.

The production, which begins at 3 p.m., is the final presentation of WCU’s 2014-15 Galaxy of Stars series.

The sister-and-brother duo of Karen and Richard Carpenter sold more than 100 million records in just over a decade and still hold the record for the most top 10 singles in a row. The combination of Karen’s voice and Richard’s compositions and arrangements created Grammy-winning magic, said Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Arts Center.

The 90-minute tribute show will feature pop music classics including “For All We Know,” “Goodbye to Love,” “Hurting Each Other,” “I Need to Be in Love,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Superstar,” “There’s a Kind of Hush,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” “Top of the World,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Yesterday Once More” and many more.

Led by Michelle Berting Brett and accompanied by a live band of versatile Nashville musicians, “Carpenters Remembered” re-creates the Carpenters’ original sound. In addition, Brett shares stories culled from extensive research and interviews with those who knew Karen and Richard personally and professionally “to provide a real behind-the-scenes look at this pop music phenomenon,” Lormand said.

“Michelle Berting Brett sounds as close to Karen Carpenter as you can get. Beautiful voice, music and show,” he said.

Tickets for the WCU show are $21 for adults ($15 in groups of 20 or more), $16 for WCU faculty and staff members, and $7 for students/children of any age. They may be purchased at the Bardo Arts Center box office, by calling 828-227-2479 or visiting the website bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.

“Carpenters Remembered” is sponsored by Bear Lake Reserve and 540-AM WRGC Radio.

Harvey Gantt to keynote April 10 symposium at WCU

Harvey Gantt for newspapersHarvey Gantt, an architect and civil rights activist who formerly served as mayor of Charlotte and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, will be the keynote speaker for a daylong symposium at Western Carolina University – “North Carolina in Dialogue: Our Past, Present and Future.”

Set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 10, the interdisciplinary symposium will provide a platform for the public and WCU’s students, faculty and staff to learn from a lineup of distinguished scholars and public activists and intellectuals who will offer perspectives on North Carolina’s history, politics and culture, said Rob Ferguson, an assistant professor in WCU’s Department of History who co-organized the event with Chris Cooper, head of WCU’s Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.

“Our hope is that we have brought together a wide array of scholars and activists who can offer thoughtful and compelling perspectives on our state,” Ferguson said. “Perhaps more importantly, we want the audience to engage the panelists and each other in productive dialogue regarding the future of North Carolina.”

Cooper said the symposium will offer an impressive and diverse lineup of speakers. “I’m looking forward to hearing their perspectives on North Carolina’s past and present, and I hope that this conference can play a small role in helping shape the future of our state,” he said.

Panel sessions will address issues such a public education, farming and foodways, social change, and politics and voting rights. Panelists will include June Atkinson, N.C. superintendent of public instruction; Elizabeth Engelhardt, the John Shelton Reed Professor of Southern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; David Cunningham, professor and chair of the sociology department at Brandeis University; Dan Carter, professor emeritus in the history department at the University of South Carolina; and J. Peder Zane, chair of the journalism and mass communications department at St. Augustine’s University and contributor to the Raleigh News and Observer.

The event is free and open to everyone. Individuals planning to attend are asked to register at the event website, which can be accessed by visiting pdp.wcu.edu and clicking on the event link. The website includes a detailed schedule of activities that will be held in the Blue Ridge Hall Conference Room and Grandroom at A.K. Hinds University Center.

The symposium is being sponsored by WCU’s Office of Undergraduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Department of History, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, Public Policy Institute, and Office of Continuing and Professional Education.

WCU’s Alexander Macaulay named among UNC system’s top teachers

Alexander Macaulay, associate professor of history at Western Carolina University, has been named one of the best teachers in the University of North Carolina system in recognition of his ability to convince students that history is more than just the memorization of dates and the study of accomplishments of “dead white men.”

Macaulay, a member of the WCU faculty since 2004, is among 17 recipients of the 2015 UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching, announced Monday, March 23.

A member of the Board of Governors is scheduled to present the award at WCU’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies that begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9. Macaulay also will speak at the Graduate School commencement ceremony Friday, May 8.

The UNC committee noted that Macaulay regularly wins rave reviews for being a dynamic teacher who combines the qualities of a gifted storyteller, engaging discussion leader and rigorous academician, prompting many students to continue studying history beyond their undergraduate years.

“Dr. Macaulay demonstrates that he reads every word of the assignments he grades. His comments are thoughtful and concise, and students end up not only with assessments of their work but also with feedback that is useful in developing them as writers and as thinkers,” said 2014 graduate Joshua Wilkey, a WCU master’s degree student in history planning to earn a doctorate and teach at the university level. “Dr. Macaulay is the sort of professor who pushes students to unlock their potential.”

Kaylynn Washnock, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, applauded Macaulay’s availability and open-door policy. “Dr. Macaulay is concerned with both the intellectual and personal development of his students. He takes an interest in his students and their well-being long after time in the classroom has ended,” Washnock said. “Even when I was no longer in his class, Dr. Macaulay would suggest stories for my projects and spend time brainstorming future research topics with me. He truly understands what teaching is all about.”

Macaulay’s faculty colleagues praise his ability to engage students – many of them confessing to not liking the subject of history because they don’t think it matters – in dynamic classroom activities that make history relevant to their lives.

He has linked historical lynchings with more modern cases of institutional violence and injustice, and has shown the connection between late 19th-century labor unions and contemporary issues of free market economy and workplace regulation, said Elizabeth McRae, associate professor of history. “Over and over, students leave his classroom engaged in issues that began for them as facts to memorize about a distant past but ended with them critically analyzing the thorny political issues of both the past and present,” McRae said. “And it is those debates and those discussions that they tell other students about, who then decide to take his class.”

Macaulay’s interest in oral history has led to his students recording histories of veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and recent conflicts in the Middle East; members of the Jackson County African-American community; residents forced to leave their homes when the construction of Fontana Dam flooded their communities; and long-time residents of Sylva in connection with the town’s recent 125th anniversary celebration.

That work has resulted in the launching of an Appalachian Oral History Project modeled after UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Oral History Project. The new project, a collaboration with WCU’s Hunter Library and Special Collections, involves Smoky Mountain High School students who, after training, will conduct the first oral histories for the effort.

In addition to oral history, Macaulay teaches classes in 20th-century U.S. history, the American South, U.S. cultural history, U.S. diplomatic history and gender history. He is author of the book “Marching in Step: Masculinity, Citizenship and the Citadel in Post-World War II America” and numerous articles, book chapters and professional papers.

“I seek out familiar, yet nontraditional topics and sources that will not only pique students’ interests, but also alert them to ways they can analyze and understand the past and the present,” Macaulay said. “For those who believe history is the study of dates and ‘dead white men,’ they learn that history is made by millions of ordinary and extraordinary people who live both everyday and exceptional lives. It also helps me democratize the past and the classroom, encouraging contributions from those who may not know about Alger Hiss, but do know about Elvis Presley.”

The 2011 recipient of WCU’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, he received his bachelor’s degree from the Citadel, master’s degree from the University of Tennessee and doctorate from the University of Georgia.

Macaulay and the other recipients of the UNC honor, representing an array of academic disciplines, were nominated by special committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure. Established by the Board of Governors in April 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the university, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institutions at least seven years. No one may receive the award more than once.

WCU board approves tailgating changes for 2015 football season

There will be more places to tailgate at Western Carolina University home football games this fall.

The WCU Board of Trustees unanimously approved a revision to the university’s tailgating policy that adds an additional parking lot to areas in which alcohol may be consumed on campus as part of fans’ pregame festivities. Approval of the change came during the board’s regularly scheduled quarterly meeting Friday, March 6.

Beginning this fall, the Belk Building parking lot, which previously had been designated as an alcohol-free zone, will be among the alcohol-permissible tailgating areas.

The move became necessary because of increased interest in pregame tailgating at WCU in the wake of recent improvements to the football program. In 2014, the WCU football team enjoyed its first winning regular season since 2005, earning a second-place finish in Southern Conference play.

With the revision to the policy, parking lots at the H.F. Robinson Administration Building, John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, Camp Building, Jordan-Phillips Field House, Ramsey Center, E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Hennon Baseball Stadium and Belk Building are considered alcohol-permissible areas during approved tailgating hours.

Lots located at Walker and Scott halls remain alcohol-free tailgating areas.

Tailgating at WCU may begin no earlier than three-and-a-half hours before kickoff of the football game. Consumption of alcohol must be discontinued at the start of the game, and tailgating without alcohol beverages may continue after the game for a period of two hours.

Only malt beverages (beers and other brewed libations) and unfortified wine are allowed in approved tailgate areas. Spirituous liquor and kegs or other common-source containers are not permitted.

Campus officials vigorously enforce laws regarding underage consumption of alcohol.

WCU has $511 million impact on WNC economy, statewide study of education says

Western Carolina University was responsible for injecting an estimated $511.3 million into the Western North Carolina economy during the 2012-13 fiscal year through the combined impact of payroll, operational, construction and research expenditures by the university and the spending habits of its students, visitors and alumni.

That is among the findings of a comprehensive study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International to examine the impact of higher education on North Carolina. The EMSI study examined the combined impact of the University of North Carolina system, North Carolina Community College system and private institutions, and also assessed the impact of individual UNC campuses, private colleges and community colleges on their local economies.

Western Carolina’s estimated impact of $511.3 million represents approximately 2.7 percent of the total gross regional product for the 10 counties examined in the WCU regional study – Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania. The added regional income created by WCU is equivalent to creating 10,475 new jobs, the study indicates.

In addition, the study calculates the return on investment in WCU for students, society and taxpayers, finding that for every dollar students invest in their educations, they will receive $2.90 in higher future income. From a statewide societal perspective, for each dollar that society spent on education at WCU in the year analyzed, North Carolina will receive a cumulative value of $10.60 in benefits such as savings related to reduced crime, lower unemployment and increased health and well-being across the state.

For every dollar invested by state and local taxpayers to support the operations of WCU in the 2012-13 fiscal year, those taxpayers gained $5.40 in added tax revenues collected and public sector savings, the EMSI researchers said. Specifically, taxpayers contributed $85 million toward WCU that year, while the added tax revenue stemming from students’ higher lifetime incomes and increased output of businesses totaled $358.6 million, with another $103.6 million in benefits because of reduced demand for government-funded services, the study revealed.

“It has been no secret that Western Carolina University and our UNC system, community college and private institution partners in higher education are engines of economic and community development for the communities and regions we serve,” WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher said.

“It is heartening to read the results of this study, which clearly demonstrates the incredible value that WCU and other institutions bring to the state and to the region. I trust that elected officials, taxpayers, students, parents, alumni, donors, and the business community will appreciate the exceptional return on investment our state and region receive when they invest in higher education, whether through appropriations, tax dollars, tuition and fees, or charitable contributions,” Belcher said.

Other findings from the EMSI report about the impact of WCU on the regional economy in the year of the study:

* Research at WCU generated $849,700 in added regional income, which is equivalent to creating 15 new jobs.

* Construction spending by WCU was $2.3 million, equivalent to 79 new jobs.

* About 67 percent of the undergraduate and graduate students at WCU originated from outside the 10-county region. Spending by those students who relocated to the region added approximately $39.9 million to the regional economy, equivalent to 895 new jobs.

* Out-of-region visitors attracted to WNC because of activities at WCU spent about $34.8 million at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other regional businesses, equivalent to creating 897 new jobs.

* The accumulated contribution of WCU alumni who are employed in the 10-county region amounted to $266.7 million in added regional income, equivalent to creating 5,643 new jobs.

Leaders from WCU, UNC Asheville and Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College gathered Friday, Feb. 20, at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impacts of their respective institutions – and of Blue Ridge, Haywood, Southwestern and Tri-County community colleges – on the communities that that they serve.

Belcher, UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary K. Grant and A-B Tech President Dennis F. King announced that public higher education institutions in WNC were responsible for injecting at least $2 billion into the state and regional economy during the 2012-13 fiscal year through their institutional expenditures and the spending habits of their students, visitors and alumni. Of that $2 billion, roughly 75 percent ($1.52 billion) stays in the 11 counties of WNC (Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Swain and Transylvania), they said.

“I am a proud product of North Carolina’s public higher education system, as are my wife and my children, so I know first-hand of the value that the UNC system and the North Carolina Community College system bring to the people of North Carolina,” said N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, a 1980 graduate of WCU.

“From laid-off factory workers seeking retraining at their local community colleges so they can re-enter the workforce of the 21st century to first-generation college students finding a welcoming environment at our regional universities, the people of our communities benefit tremendously from public higher education,” Apodaca said. “The results of this economic impact study also show the impact that these institutions are having on our state and regional businesses and on society as a whole.”

The meeting of regional leaders of public higher education followed on the heels of a Feb. 18 announcement of the statewide impact of the UNC and community college systems and private institutions. That statewide study reported the UNC system alone, including campuses and affiliated medical institutions, created $27.9 billion in added state income, which is equal to approximately 6.4 percent of the total Gross State Product of North Carolina and is equivalent to creating 426,052 new jobs.

Looking at the statewide picture, WCU created $901.8 million in additional income in North Carolina during the 2012-13 fiscal year, an economic impact equivalent to creating 15,381 new jobs.

The EMSI researchers say that initial spending by colleges and universities on payroll, operations or goods and services creates a multiplier effect across other businesses throughout the state and regional economy. Data and methods used in the study are based on several sources, including the 2012-13 academic and financial reports from the campuses, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior.

Researchers say the study applies a conservative methodology and follows standard practice using only the most recognized indicators of investment effect and economic impact.

For a copy of the full report, including a description of the data and methods used, visit the University of North Carolina website at www.northcarolina.edu/economic-impact-2015.

For more information about WCU’s regional economic impact, a printable PDF is available at www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/15-123-Economic-Impact-Report-Western-Version.pdf.

WCU College of Health and Human Sciences opens pro bono physical therapy clinic

The College of Health and Human Sciences at Western Carolina University has launched a pro bono clinic to provide physical therapy services to underserved and underinsured populations of Western North Carolina.

The clinic, operated by students in WCU’s doctoral program in physical therapy under the supervision of faculty members, is open from 6 until 8:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. It is located in Carolina West Sports Medicine clinic space on the first floor of the Health and Human Sciences Building on Little Savannah Road on WCU’s West Campus.

The physical therapy clinic is among several clinics located in WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building that are designed to provide much-needed health care services to WNC residents while giving students in the health care professions valuable hands-on learning experiences, said Doug Keskula, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“Through the new physical therapy clinic and other clinics in our building, we are able to deliver exceptional health services to our community while simultaneously supporting the education and development of the highly skilled health professionals of the future,” Keskula said.

“The truly extraordinary aspect of this clinic is that it is a student-led initiative,” he said. “Our physical therapy students have been involved in creating and implementing every aspect of this much-needed clinic. Under the guidance of faculty member and clinic director Dr. Ashley Hyatt, our students are learning the professional roles of patient advocacy and social responsibility firsthand.”

Hyatt, who joined the WCU faculty in 2013, has previous experience working in a pro bono clinic during her years in graduate school. “I participated both as a student and as a supervising clinician, and I was able to see firsthand how beneficial the clinic was to the community,” she said.

Soon after her arrival on campus, Hyatt began working on a proposal for a clinic at WCU. Students in the physical therapy program formed a student board to develop plans for the clinic, under the supervision of an advisory board composed of faculty and staff from WCU as well as community partners.

“It has been very exciting to see all of the hard work that these students have put into this clinic come to fruition. It is also really rewarding to see our students apply what they have learned in the classroom to actual patients who truly need their help,” Hyatt said. “We all learn something each clinic night, and this will be a constant work in progress. We would like to start expanding the clinic to other professions in the college once we get a bit more comfortable.”

Last September, WestCare Center for Family Medicine launched a new full-time primary care clinic in the building. That clinic occupies 2,000 square feet within the 160,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.

In December 2013, Carolina West Sports Medicine opened a rehabilitation and sports medicine clinic in the building, providing services to the community and clinical practice opportunities for WCU faculty and students. The building’s interdisciplinary clinic also hosts WCU’s nationally recognized Speech and Hearing Clinic, the Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic, and Vecinos Farmworker Health Program.

Opened in the fall of 2012, the Health and Human Sciences Building is the first facility built on 344 acres across N.C. Highway 107 from the main campus that were acquired by WCU in 2005 as part of the Millennial Initiative. A comprehensive regional economic development strategy, the Millennial Initiative promotes university collaboration with private industry and government partners to enhance hands-on student learning and collaborative research.

In addition, the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of Western Carolina University recently issued a request for qualifications for a project to develop a medical office building to be constructed near the university’s Health and Human Sciences Building.

The office building will be the first privately developed structure to be built on the West Campus as part of the Millennial Initiative. Expected to encompass at least 30,000 square feet of space, the building will become home to a mix of office space for health care professionals, along with space for health-related businesses.

The Mountain Area Pro Bono Physical Therapy Clinic is available to individuals who do not have insurance coverage for physical therapy.

Spring enrollment tops 9,800 for first time in WCU history

Thanks to an increase in the percentage of first-time freshmen returning after their initial fall semester of study, total spring enrollment at Western Carolina University has topped 9,800 for the first time in university history.

The spring enrollment high-water mark comes after WCU set another fall enrollment record in September, with 10,382 students on the roll, a 2.7 percent jump in the total student population over the previous fall’s tally.

Preliminary census data compiled by the university’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness indicates that enrollment for the 2015 spring semester stands at 9,814. That figure represents a 1.7 percent increase over last spring’s enrollment of 9,650, said Tim Metz, assistant vice chancellor for institutional planning and effectiveness.

Spring enrollment numbers at institutions of higher education typically are lower than fall enrollment as some students do not return for a second semester for reasons that range from academic to personal, Metz said.

The increase in spring enrollment is driven, at least in part, by a higher percentage of first-semester freshmen who returned to campus in the spring for a second semester, Metz said. This year’s fall-to-spring freshman retention rate is 92.4 percent, up from the spring 2014 rate of 90 percent.

University officials point to ongoing efforts to increase the number of students who remain at WCU beyond the freshman year as a factor in recent improvements in retention rates, which also are boosting total enrollment. Higher fall-to-spring rates of retention for freshmen typically also indicate that a larger percentage of students will return for their second year of study.

Although the university’s official census day comes after the 10th class day of the semester, enrollment numbers are considered preliminary until they have been submitted to the University of North Carolina General Administration.

World’s best young Elvis’ performs Jan. 31 at WCU

Travis LeDoyt, acclaimed by critics as “the world’s best young Elvis,” will bring his tribute to the king of rock ‘n’ roll to Western Carolina University Saturday, Jan. 31, in honor of what would have been Presley’s 80th birthday.

LeDoyt will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. at WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, as part of the 2014-15 Galaxy of Stars Series. Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935.

Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Arts Center, says there are five reasons why LeDoyt wins accolades as the top young Elvis.

“He looks like Elvis, he sings like Elvis, he moves like Elvis, his personality and mannerisms both on and off stage are strikingly similar to Elvis, and he sells out nearly every show,” Lormand said. “To those people who think they have seen it all when it comes to Elvis tribute acts, this is the one that makes them do a double take. There is simply no way to describe Travis and his performance except ‘unbelievable.’”

LeDoyt captures the essence of Elvis in his prime, and restricts his shows to the hits and ambience of 1954 through 1962, Lormand said. Utilizing a three-piece band featuring guitar, bass and drums, LeDoyt takes his audience back to the fun and excitement of a 1950s Elvis concert, he said.

“For those who missed seeing an Elvis concert during those years, it is a chance to relive the excitement and aura of an Elvis show and the fun and energy experienced by the audiences,” Lormand said.

LeDoyt has been selling out shows and receiving accolades from audiences from around the world. He has been on four tours in the United Kingdom and has performed in Hong Kong, China, Chile and Canada.

Tickets for the WCU show are $21 for adults ($15 in groups of 20 or more), $16 for WCU faculty and staff members, and $7 for students/children of any age. Contact the box office at 227-2479 or at bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.

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.