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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

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.