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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

WCU Ballon Recovered in Outer Banks

WCU CAT 7 Baloon Launch

WCU CAT 7 Baloon Launch

The seventh Western Carolina University physics research balloon to be launched to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere – Cat 7 – left Cullowhee on Saturday, Feb. 1, and traveled unexpectedly to Tennessee, across Virginia and on to the Atlantic Ocean, where it appeared to be lost at sea.  The hydrogen-filled balloons carry about $1,500 worth of equipment – cameras, tracking devices, sensors and a radiation detector. The data collected helps students learn more about radiation levels and radiation sources in the atmosphere and about weather phenomena such as dark lightning, said Enrique Gomez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. Dark lightning is an invisible burst of high-energy radiation immediately preceding a flash of lightning. About a week after the Cat 7 flight, Coker received surprising and good news. Two teachers walking on the beach at the Outer Banks found the balloon’s science box, and a few days later, a Southern Shores resident located part of the radio box. Although the equipment will have to be replaced, Coker is excited about the possibility of being able to retrieve some of the data from it and continuing to investigate what happened with Cat 7. The crew assisting with the launch was small, which made holding on to the balloon difficult. The craft ascended more slowly than previous balloons but clocked 130 mph at just under 50,000 feet “When the balloon got into the upper jetstream, it took off and was soon halfway through Virginia,” said Coker. Coker met up with chase team volunteers including members of the Catamount Amateur Radio Group and the Haywood County Amateur Radio Club at Cracker Barrel in Statesville. They monitored the balloon’s radio signals, some of which were not functioning properly, and periodic location updates. The balloon traveled about 560 miles in 6 hours and 41 minutes, reporting a maximum altitude of 90,510 feet over Gloucester, Va. The craft continued east, and the group realized continuing the chase would likely require a boat. Coker said she notified the Coast Guard about Cat 7 and reached out to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which gave her updates about conditions and accessibility. The equipment continued to transmit location coordinates through the night before falling quiet. A week later and about 100 miles away from the balloon’s last reported location, two teachers from Poquoson Middle School in Virginia walking on the beach noticed what looked like a cooler held together with duct tape and wires washing up on the beach. Out of an abundance of caution, Penny Huskey and Doreen Nadolny left the package on the beach and had fun letting their imaginations wander.  An officer contacted the radio group using a phone number found online and spoke with Daniel deCourt, a WCU alumnus who had been part of past balloon flight projects. The science box of Western Carolina University’s Cat 7 research balloon washed up on shore in the Town of Nags Head. the research balloon experiments help teach about basic science as well as how to carry an experiment from conception to design, deployment, retrieval and analysis. As for Cat 7, they have high hopes that the flight’s research data can be retrieved from the salvaged equipment. Previous flights have suggested a peak of radiation at that layer of transition between atmospheric layers, which is expected from cosmic rays.

WCU Fire Update

FireThe Board of Trustees of the WCU Endowment Fund, which owns the commercial strip affected by the fire, reviewed the cost estimates, tax assessments, and anticipated insurance proceeds at their February 5th meeting. Independent cost estimates to repair or replace the damaged buildings ranged between $629,000 and $1.5 million. The tax assessment of the buildings was approximately $250,000, which would likely be the maximum the University could receive from the Department of Insurance. The Board also explored the possibility of using assets from the endowment fund for repair or replacement and learned that those funds are primarily used for academic purposes, such as scholarships and student support.  They determined that use of these funds to repair the buildings for use by private businesses would negatively affect the amount of dollars available for academic purposes.  In addition, the Board reviewed the recommendations from the recently approved Campus Master Plan, which called for replacing the commercial strip with a mixed-use development that incorporates student housing with retail space. After thoughtfully weighing the information above, the Board has decided against replacing or repairing the buildings housing and the three dining establishments said David Belcher. Board members also weighed cost estimates, tax assessments, and anticipated insurance proceeds against  other factors such as the historic significance of the property to the campus community, the contributions to WCU culture made by private businesses operating in the center of campus, and ongoing support by members of the campus community for owners and employees of the affected businesses. The formal resolution approved by the Endowment Fund Board further authorizes WCU officers to demolish the buildings damaged by the fire and notify all endowment fund tenants that lease terms expiring in May 2014 will not be renewed, except on a month-to-month basis. After a competitive process determined by the University, the Board will select a private developer to build a mixed-use facility on the site with a goal of occupancy in August 2016.  Owners of the existing establishments along the commercial strip will have the right of first refusal for commercial space in the new facility. Belcher Said “Please know that we have personally notified all owners of the business enterprises on Centennial Drive of this decision”.  Demolition of the damaged property is tentatively scheduled to begin March 10. Belcher continued; “In closing, let me thank Teresa Williams, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund, and the other members of the Board for their leadership and work on this issue. Theirs was not an easy task, but I know that she and her fellow Board members made the decision they carefully determined would be in the best interests of the University.”

Special Visit to WCU

Mercedes Ellington

Mercedes Ellington

The “Echoes of the Cotton Club” spring radio show re-creation at Western Carolina University will start preproduction Wednesday, Feb. 26, with a visit to campus by internationally known choreographer and dancer Mercedes Ellington. Ellington is the president of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts in New York City and is the granddaughter of music legend Duke Ellington, a bandleader at the Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem on which the show, an original production written by WCU’s Don Connelly, is based. She will be on campus working with singers, dancers and musicians preparing for the radio show. Ellington also will present a free public presentation on Friday, Feb. 28, about her professional life and the work of her grandfather and her father, Mercer Ellington. The event, to be held at 11:15 a.m. in the recital hall of the Coulter Building, is free and open to the public, and will feature performances of Duke Ellington’s greatest hits by the Catamount Singers and Electric Soul. “Echoes of the Cotton Club” is the sixth in a series of academic-based entertainment projects mounted in collaboration with four departments and three colleges at WCU. Each of the shows in the series hearkens back to the golden age of radio, featuring a live orchestra and sound effects, and performed only once before a live audience. “Echoes of the Cotton Club” will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the John C. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will benefit scholarships in participating academic departments. The group’s first five shows have raised nearly $25,000 for student scholarships.

Communicative Disorders Confrence

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Sciences will host the 22nd annual Cullowhee Conference on Communicative Disorders on Thursday, March 27 from 1pm to 5pm, and Friday, March 28 from 8:30am to 5pm. The event, a regional favorite for continuing education in the field of communication sciences and disorders, will feature a broad range of presentations designed to be of interest to speech/language pathologists, allied health providers and family members of individuals with communication disorders. or more information about the conference, contact Bill Ogletree, head of the WCU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, at ogletree@wcu.edu.

Tourism & Economy Conference

WCU

WCU

The impact of the travel and tourism industry on the economy of the 26 westernmost counties of North Carolina will be the subject of a daylong conference Friday, April 11, presented by the Western Carolina University College of Business. The inaugural “Tourism Works for Western North Carolina” conference will be held at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching beginning at 8:30 a.m. and concluding by 4 p.m. The conference is expected to attract elected and appointed government officials, representatives of tourism and economic development organizations and chambers of commerce, and owners and operators of private sector businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The Cost for the conference is $59 for those who register through March 15, and $99 thereafter. The event is sponsored by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and Duke Energy. For information or to register, visit the website tourism.wcu.edu or contact the Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397.

Board Of Elections Has A Busy Monday

The Jackson County Board Of Elections got the 2014 election season off to a quick start on Monday with eight candidates filing for the upcoming campaign season. Incumbent Jackson County Clerk of Court Ann Melton completed the paperwork to seek another term in that position. She was joined at the new Jackson County Board Of Election offices in the renovated Skyland Office Center by incumbent Republican Commissioners Doug Cody and Charles Elders. Also filing on Monday were current School Board members Ken Hinkey, Allie Laird Large, and Margaret McCray. The race for a new Jackson County Sheriff is unexpected to be hotly contested this year since incumbent sheriff Jimmy Ashe has announced his retirement. Steve Lillard who is currently on the Western Carolina University Police Department, and Jackson County Chief Deputy Chip Hall both filed on Monday. Several other individuals have placed campaign signs in the at various occasions but did not file on Monday. Also on Monday no one filed for the Jackson County Register Of Deeds Office currently held by Joe Hamilton. Candidates have 25 days to file for the May 6th Primary. Board of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl encouraged candidates to go to the State board Of Elections website and download the documents which can be completed in advance making the filing process quicker. Also Lovedahl reminded voters in the Dillsboro area that their votes would be cash in the jack son County Justice Center starting in 2014 because the Dillsboro precinct voting station at the Dillsboro Town Hall was to small to continue to accommodate the increased number of people voting in that location.

Avoid IRS imposters

With the April 15th tax filing deadline coming up, watch out for criminals and con artists posing as the Internal Revenue Service to try to win your trust and steal your money. We’ve warned you before about phony calls from the IRS. Some North Carolina consumers recently reported getting threatening calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The fake IRS agent told them a warrant had been issued for their arrest and, if they did not pay his taxes immediately, police would jail them within hours. The caller continued to harass one victim and intimidate him until he felt he had no choice but to pay more than $8,000 to the scammers.

If you get a call that claims to come from the IRS, look for warning signs that it’s scam:

  • The IRS will not threaten arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay back taxes immediately.
  • IRS agents will never demand immediate payment by credit card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
  • Typically, the IRS communicates with consumers about tax issues via mail, not by phone, email or text message.
  • Ask for the caller’s call back number and employee badge number, and then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to check them out.
  • Don’t rely on Caller ID to identify who is calling you, since scammers can manipulate it to make it appear they are calling from the real IRS.
  • Never share personal information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number, with anyone you don’t know who contacts you, even if they claim to be with the IRS.  Identity thieves can use this information to open up accounts in your name and even claim your tax refund.

If you spot a tax related scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing an online complaint at ncdoj.gov.

WCU Enrollment Continues At A Record Pace

Information released this week by Western Carolina University shows the Spring 2014 student population to be over 9600 students which is a new record for the Spring Semester. This follows the record breaking Fall 2013 Enrollment which exceeded 10,000. Why the drop in the Spring enrollment compared to the Fall? University administrators report that a Spring drop in enrollment is expected because some students enter the fall semester and choose not to return for the Spring semester for various reasons. WCU also received in influx of students transferring from other institutions. The additional number of students transferring in was sufficient to keep the overall enrollment number at record levels.

WCU Receives Estimates On The Structure Fire Damages

Western Carolina University Chancellor Doctor David Belcher on Wednesday published an update on the status of the buildings damaged by the fire which damaged several on campus buildings occupied by private businesses during December 2013. Belcher’s report included estimated costs to replace or repair the three structures. The estimates were provided by the independent Clark Nexsen Architectural and Engineering firm. The cost of replacing the seventy year old buildings with new structures meeting current building codes was one-point-five million dollars. There was also an estimated cost of over six-hundred-thousand dollars to demolish and remove the structures and debris. The property is owned by the Board of trustees of the Endowment Fund of WCU who are now evaluating the information to determine the next steps. According to jackson County tax records the property is listed for taxes at $254,430.00

WCU Hires Rusty Marts As Director Of Employee Relations

CULLOWHEE – Albert “Rusty” Marts, director of employee relations and
affirmative action officer at the University of North Carolina Asheville,
has been named director of employee relations, training and development at
Western Carolina University.

Marts will begin his new role effective Feb. 1. Kathy Wong, WCU director of
human resources, announced the appointment Tuesday, Jan. 21.

“Rusty brings a wealth of experience to Western Carolina. His background
includes work in the areas of vocational counseling, employee relations and
employee assistance programs, as well as experience with professional
development and training programs. His combination of experience and
education will greatly enhance our employee services goals,” Wong said.

“His focus on services aimed directly at supporting our staff and faculty
will be invaluable, and it aligns well with our commitment to ‘invest in our
people’ as outlined in the university’s strategic plan,” she said.
A new position at WCU, the director of employee relations, training and
development was identified by Chancellor David O. Belcher in his Opening
Assembly address to start the fall semester as among the top priorities for
the 2013-14 academic year toward the goal of improving the work-life
environment for faculty and staff.

“This individual will assist managers on campus by providing training and
information to promote a better understanding of the university’s goals and
policies, and the policies, laws and regulations applicable to the
workplace,” Belcher said in August. “Broadly and generally, this person will
work toward the prevention and resolution of conflict and other issues
between employees and managers. This position represents a real need on our
campus.”

Marts has been director of employee relations and affirmative action officer
at UNCA since January 2008. He previously worked as an employee assistance
regional consultant and account manager for the Employee Assistance Network;
owner/operator of two private counseling services providers; a counselor and
area supervisor for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for the state
of New Mexico; and programs manager and unit director for Mental Health
Resources Inc.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the Western Carolina University
community,” said Marts, a resident of Cullowhee who passes WCU every day on
his way to his current position in Asheville. “I will now have a much better
opportunity to become involved in the culture of campus life. WCU is a
dynamic, growing institution, and I look forward to being a part of this
vibrant institution.”

Marts said he is eager to serve as WCU’s first director of employee
relations, training and development, which he said is an important position
for the institution.

“The employee relations component provides a safe, confidential environment
for management and non-management employees to discuss issues ranging from
the work site to the more personal,” he said. “The training and development
component demonstrates the university’s commitment to the professional
development and advancement of the work force. Truly, investing in training
and development is an investment in the excellence of the work force.”

Marts holds a doctorate in Christian counseling from Bethany Theological
Seminary, a master’s degree in psychology and personnel services from
Eastern New Mexico University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and
Christian service from Manhattan Christian College.

Western Carolina University Celebrates their 125th Birthday With A Bold Vision

Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher and Melissa Wargo unveiled their long term and short term Comprehensive Master Plan Tuesday in a special presentation to the Jackson County Commissioners. Wargo explained how the process to develop a plan to serve as a blueprint for future campus access and building construction was developed. Nor only is the campus poised for growth, the area around the campus is on the verge of significant development as well with several residential and commercial on the drawing boards. Wargo and Belcher stressed the critical need for a significant upgrade to the mid campus area adjacent to the Natural Sciences Building, McKee, and Killian. The plan calls for the construction of a facility which would replace the Niggli Theater property and attach to the Natural Sciences Building which is now forty years old and in need of an upgrade. The road through that property would be closed in order to create a better pedestrian friendly center of campus. While Western Carolina University swelled to over ten thousand students this year Chancellor Belcher pointed out that the University’s future growth would be contingent upon the availability of additional classroom space especially in the sciences. The WCU  Millennium Campus is a large acreage tract of real estate about two thirds of that property is not suitable for development. The plans show how several smaller structures to accommodate the new Health Sciences building could fill out that campus. Also the need to connect the two campuses with pedestrian and shuttle service are in the plans. Two other significant projects were shown one if the eventual change of the main entrance to adjoin the Little Savannah Road intersection which would also connect in with a new road to connect the current road around Belk Building and the Bardo Center with the oldest part of the campus near the chancellors dwelling. The property now known as the camp building would be converted into a 1200 car parking deck. The University has a busy day planned for Thursday with the kickoff of the observance of the 125th anniversary celebration. Activities will take place at the University Center. Also the first 500 fans at the WCU and Davidson basketball game on Thursday will receive a WCU white T shirt to celebrate the anniversary celebration.

WCU College of Health and Human Sciences Hires Director of Clinical Affairs

CULLOWHEE—Elizabeth T. Wark, former assistant dean for faculty practice for the College of Allied Health Sciences at Georgia Regents University, has joined Western Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Sciences as the director of clinical affairs.

At WCU, Wark will support development and operation of clinical opportunities that serve the community and involve students and faculty from different programs within the college.

“Dr. Wark is an experienced educator and health care and higher education administrator whose teaching and managerial skills are highly regarded by students and colleagues,” said Douglas R. Keskula, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. “With Dr. Wark’s credentials, experiences and expertise, she can offer valuable input in the coordination of faculty involvement in the emerging clinical opportunities at WCU.”

Wark holds a doctorate in physical therapy from Simmons College in Boston, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College.

As assistant dean at Georgia Regents University, she was responsible for the creation and daily operations of a nonprofit corporation created to provide a mechanism for faculty to practice in clinical, consulting and continuing education roles. Her duties included negotiating and managing practice contracts for faculty within 13 health professions.

Prior to serving as assistant dean, she was coordinator of academic affairs at the college and was responsible for oversight of new program development, programmatic accreditation review, program feasibility and sustainability studies, coordination of interdisciplinary courses, and creation and dissemination of academic policies

In addition, she has worked as a faculty member teaching courses ranging from health care ethics and jurisprudence to health care management, and she has held clinical administrative and care roles such as serving as assistant director, center coordinator of clinical education and supervisor with the University of Virginia Medical Center Physical Therapy Department.

For more information, contact Wark at etwark@wcu.edu. (Teresa Killian Tate, Office of Communications and Public Relations, Western Carolina University)

Alleged Assult on WCU Campus Reported

Western Carolina University police are investigating a report of a simple assault that allegedly occurred between the Courtyard Dining Hall and Scott Hall at approximately 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec.  8. At 12:19 p.m. that day, a female student reported to police that she was approached from behind by a black male. The female student told authorities that the male grabbed her shoulder and, when she turned around, the suspect ran off. Police say that the suspect was last seen entering a silver or light-colored SUV.

University police informed the campus of the investigation on Sunday afternoon, and took the opportunity to remind members of the campus community of several safety tips, including to have the WCU emergency phone number plugged into their cell phones; to report suspicious behavior to police as soon as possible; to walk in groups, especially at night, and in well-lit areas; and to remain alert to their surroundings.

Early Sunday evening, university police informed the campus that the suspect had been located, and that there did not appear to be an ongoing threat to the community. No charges have been filed at this time. The incident remains under investigation.

 

WestCare Health System Opens New Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Space At WCU

Carolina West Sports Medicine, the official medical provider for Western Carolina University athletics, has relocated its physical therapy and sports medicine clinic at the university from the Ramsey Center to the new state-of-the-art Health and Human Sciences Building. Carolina West Sports Medicine, part of the rehabilitation services department of WestCare Health System, has partnered with Western Carolina University since 2001, providing comprehensive outpatient physical therapy specializing in orthopedics, athletic training and sports medicine services to students, faculty and the community.

The new space provides more room for patients, additional private treatment areas and greater accessibility. It is located on the first floor of the Health and Human Sciences Building in room 113.

The new building will also feature an aquatic therapy pool donated by WestCare. Carolina West Sports Medicine will use the therapy pool to expand services for patients who need therapy in a reduced weight-bearing environment.

“This is helpful for patients who have had spine surgery, or who have ongoing problems with walking or chronic pain. The pool has an underwater treadmill and will enable athletes to attempt running and other dynamic movements while injured or after surgery,” said Thomas Burns, a doctorate-level physical therapist board certified in orthopedics who works with Carolina West Sports Medicine. The pool is expected to open after the first of the year.

WestCare and Western Carolina University have collaborated on the new space and pool since the inception of the Health and Human Sciences Building. “Through our partnership with Western Carolina University we have not only expanded our space but also added a critical new modality in aquatics therapy, all housed in a spectacularly high-tech building. WestCare is pleased to participate in serving our community with such advancements,” said Steve Heatherly, President and CEO of WestCare Health System.

The clinic will be staffed with four physical therapists working for Carolina West Sports Medicine. “Being located in the Health and Human Sciences Building will provide our team with the opportunity to continue working in close proximity to WCU athletics and to collaborate with physical therapists on faculty at the university,” said Carlyle Schomberg, director of rehabilitation services for WestCare Health System.

An open house for the new space and aquatic therapy pool will be planned for early 2014. For information call (828) 293-5174.

Cullowhee Business Buildings On Fire Thursday Morning

Several businesses located along Central Drive on WCU’s campus were engulfed in flames Thursday morning. According to early reports the fire started at Subway and quickly spread to other businesses located in that same structure. According to Bill Studenc, WCU’s Director of News Services,  the fire was contained to the one structure at 11:00 a.m. with every effort being made to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings.  Fire departments from Jackson County are working to control and extinguish the blaze with mutual aid being provided by fire departments from neighboring counties.  There are no reports of injuries from the fire or from those who are battling the blaze. Once the fire has been extinguished the investigation as to the cause of the fire will commence. For a video of the blaze go the wrgc facebook page.

Mountain Heritage Day. Saturday, September 28th

Western Carolina University’s 39th Annual Mountain Heritage Day will commence this weekend on Saturday, the 28th. The WCU Mountain Heritage Day festival will be free to the public and feature a full list of mountain music, activities, and many arts & crafts, and food booths. Scott Philyaw had the following to say about the festival’s history, “When this school was started, back in the 1880′s by the people of the Cullowhee valley and Jackson County, they included things that are very similar to mountain heritage day. The very first commencement had music, it had barbecue, it had presentations of the various aspects of the region, much as Mountain Heritage Day does. It attracted a large number at that time of one thousand people for a weekend. In many ways Mountain Heritage day harkens back to those earliest celebrations when what we call Western Carolina University was known as Cullowhee Academy.”

The Mountain Heritage Day will start off with a 5-K foot race at 8 am. The Blue Ridge and Balsam Stages will be playing continuous mountain music, clogging, and southern storytelling. There will be demonstrations of Cherokee stickball among other games from the Cherokee Tribe. Directly in front of the Balsam Stage there will be a new platform, created for members of the audience to show off their dance skills. There will be a children’s tent providing activities for the younger attendees, as well as hayrides. Among all the other mentioned events there will also be demonstrations and competitions for: Chainsaw wood cutting, baked and canned goods, period costumes, and contests for beard and mustaches. Expect to see, blacksmithing, black powder shooting, as well as interpretations of Cherokee hunting capabilities. The festival will be rain or shine. No pets allowed though service animals are welcome. “The festival itself starts at 10:00am, the 5-K Race starts at 8:00am. Registration for the chainsaw contest starts at 9:00am. We are recommending people show up around 9:30 so they can find a place to park. The festival closes down at 5:00pm.”

For more information visit MountainHeritageDay.com or call 828-227-7129

Sports Update

Catamounts Projected To Win In The Rain Saturday

(09/21/13) With the weather forecast calling for a 90 percent chance of rain in Cullowhee for Saturday’s clash of mountain area rivals, another one of the challenges will be keeping possession of a wet football. Expect both teams to spend more time with the running game which could lead to a lower score and grind it out style of football. WCU Behind Troy Mitchel and a strong running backfield should give the Cats plenty of opportunities to chew up some yards and even give more touches to the freshmen and sophomores which Coach Spier is counting on to be the foundation of the Catamounts future success. The Catamounts have not lost in 14 games against the Mars Hill Lions.

WCU Enrollment Tops Ten Thousand

Total enrollment at Western Carolina University has topped 10,000 students for the first time in the institution’s history, a milestone reached in large part because of an increase of five percentage points in the freshman retention rate to nearly 79 percent.

Western Carolina’s total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 10,106, a 5 percent increase over last year’s tally of 9,608 students. The university’s freshman retention rate – the percentage of first-time, full-time freshman students who returned for their sophomore year – is 78.7 percent this year, compared to last fall’s retention rate of 73.7 percent. WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher announced the enrollment figures during a special event and reception held at the Central Plaza area on campus Tuesday. The enrollment record comes as the university is gearing up to mark the 125th anniversary of its founding, Belcher told the several hundred students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered for the announcement. A yearlong quasquicentennial celebration is being planned for the 2014 calendar year. “It’s amazing to think that when this institution was founded in a one-room schoolhouse in 1889, up there on the hill, it had a grand total of 18 students,” he said. “Today, Western Carolina has grown to become a major cultural, scientific, economic and educational force in this region and in our state.”

Enrollment figures are up across the board, with increases in the numbers of first-time freshmen, undergraduate transfers, graduate students, distance education students and students taking classes at the university’s instructional site at Biltmore Park, Belcher said. The improving enrollment and retention numbers are important, he said, because they signify that WCU is doing its part to help increase to 32 percent the number of North Carolinians who have four-year degrees, which is one of the goals of the University of North Carolina system. Keeping students enrolled and on track to graduation has become even more important because the UNC system is moving toward performance-based funding, with graduation and retention rates among the factors that will determine how much money WCU and other universities will receive from the state, he said.

 

NC Governor Appoints Three New Members to WCU Board of Trustees

A Rutherford County educational foundation executive, the first woman elected principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a Highlands homebuilder are the three newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Charles Philip Byers to fill a recent board vacancy, and Joyce Conseen Dugan and John R. Lupoli to four-year terms on the WCU board.

Byers is filling a vacancy on the board created by the departure of Brenda Wellmon of Mecklenburg County, who stepped down as a trustee for personal reasons this summer.

In addition to Wellmon, McCrory’s appointments to the WCU board fill vacancies left by outgoing members Tommy Saunooke, member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council, and William Forsyth, retired executive director of the Cherokee County Economic Development Commission.

Byers, Dugan and Lupoli will join two other new members – Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp. – elected to the WCU board earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The board will hold its first quarterly meeting of the new academic year at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the board room of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The board also will hold committee meetings and discussions beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at various locations on the fifth floor of the Robinson Building.