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Archive for WCU – Page 2

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.

 

Record Rainfall May Dampen Fall Color Show

mfec4S8 In the yearly tradition that is the Western Carolina University foliage forecast, given by Kathy Mathews, this years forecast has been delivered. Abundant rainfall during one of the wettest summers in Western North Carolina history may portend a dampening of the intensity of the fall color show this year unless autumn brings vastly drier conditions, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fall foliage forecaster. Mathews went on to explain; “With record rainfall during July, the trees in the mountains look healthy and green at the moment, and that’s a good thing for the trees. But leaf-lookers need to keep their fingers crossed for some drier weather in the next couple of months in order for us to see the development of vibrant fall leaf color.” Leaf looking tourists may be in for some disappointment this year, which will possibly affect the local businesses in our area. “There always will be plenty of color in the yellow and orange hues,” Mathews said. “However, if the days remain cloudy throughout September, there won’t be as much of a pop of bright reds on the leaves.” The red pigments called “anthocyanins”, are manufactured by leaves mainly in the fall in response to cooling temperatures and excess sugar production caused by lots of sun, Mathews said. “Dryness also causes production of more red pigment,” she said. “Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils and nutrient deficiency produce more red pigment in the fall. Ample sunshine and dry weather is the combination necessary for brilliant fall foliage.” Another factor in the annual fall color show is temperature. “Cool nights in September, with temperatures dropping into the low 40s, release the yellow, orange and red colors because chlorophyll degrades faster at lower temperatures,” Mathews said. “Temperature may work in our favor this year, as we have seen relatively cool summer months. If this trend continues, colors may be more vivid despite the rainfall.” And there is an upside to all the rainfall, even if it means less-vibrant fall colors, the leaves should hang around longer, “With healthy, well-watered trees, we should not see much early leaf drop,” Mathews said. The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC. Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors always can find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, with more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians. That means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season, Mathews said.

WCU Campus Master Planners to Seek Community Input

Representatives of the firms assisting Western Carolina University in drafting a comprehensive master plan that will guide campus development and improvements in the years ahead will return to Sylva on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to seek additional community input. The drop-in session is scheduled for 5:30 until 7 p.m. in the atrium of Jackson County Public Library. Refreshments will be served, and community members can arrive at any point during the event to offer feedback. The public session is a follow-up to a previous forum held in Sylva in May. It will be led by Ron G. Smith, a Sylva native who has worked on the renovation project for the Jackson County Public Library and on WCU’s Hunter Library master plan. Smith is among the principal consultants with the architecture firm McMillan, Pazdan and Smith, which is working on the WCU project with Hanbury, Evans, Wright and Vlattas, a firm specializing in campus design and planning. Launched last year, the 17-month master planning process has included public forums held on and off campus last fall to help the steering committee set directions, with a community meeting at Cullowhee Valley School. Consultants were on campus in April soliciting feedback, gathering information and conducting impromptu focus groups with students, faculty, staff and members of the community. A preliminary report and plan by the consultants are expected to be completed by early September, followed by a series of campus and community presentations for reaction in October and November. After revisions based on that feedback, the final master plan should be ready for consideration by the WCU Board of Trustees at its meeting in December.

For more information about the master planning effort, visit the website masterplanning.wcu.edu, where there is a “share your feedback” link.

Back to School for Western North Carolina Students

It’s almost back to school season for students in the Western North Carolina area and WRGC would like to remind everyone to be wary of heavy morning and afternoon traffic in the upcoming weeks. The Blue Ridge district and Jackson County Early College students will be starting on August 13th. The first day of Southwestern Community College will be August 15th and Jackson County Smokey Mountain school district students will begin August 26th. Western Carolina University fall classes will start on August 19th, and WCU is planning to welcome an anticipated record number of students with total student enrollment already looking to top last year’s fall enrollment of 9,608. WCU’s official fall enrollment will be established on Friday, August 30th which is the 10th class day and the official census date as specified by the University of North Carolina General Administration. Freshmen move-in day will be on Friday, August 16 with an estimated 1,600 freshmen arriving on campus. Officials expect an extra 2,500 vehicles on the lower part of campus, and traffic is expected to be particularly heavy on and near campus between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. The “Week of Welcome” activities set up by the A.K Hinds University Center include WCU’s annual Valley Balleyhoo event for students on the Central Plaza from 4 to 7 pm Saturday August 17th, which WRGC will be attending. The event will feature food vendors, live music, outdoor activities, and student and community organizations will share information and host give-aways. New students will be taking part in community service activities on and off campus. For more information on all events visit wow.wcu.edu and fye.wcu.edu online.

Expansion of WCU Undergrad Engineering Program

The $20.6 billion biennial budget recently approved by the N.C. General Assembly includes more than $1.4 million for expansion of Western Carolina University’s undergraduate engineering program to Biltmore Park. State appropriations for 2013-14 include $698,962 for engineering program start-up costs and laboratory equipment at WCU’s Biltmore Park location, and $719,844 in recurring funds to cover faculty positions and ongoing operations. With the budget now signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, WCU will proceed with established processes for bringing academic offerings to the Asheville area, with the expanded engineering program expected to begin at Biltmore Park in the fall of 2014. Additional engineering education opportunities in the fast-growing corridor between Asheville and Hendersonville will help meet increasing industry and business demand for a highly qualified workforce, said WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher. “This is a real game-changer for Western North Carolina,” Belcher said. “The Milken Institute, which is a major economic think tank, has stated that one of the keys to a region’s success in economic development is close proximity to an institution of higher education that offers engineering degrees. With the funding provided by the General Assembly, we will be able to expand our Cullowhee-based engineering program to better serve the people and our business partners in Buncombe, Henderson and surrounding counties.” The Biltmore Park program will primarily focus on serving working professionals and will lead to a general engineering degree that will provide the specific skills sought by regional industry partners. WCU’s generalist approach to engineering offerings has a common core of mathematics and science, augmented by concentrations in specific engineering specializations. Additional engineering specializations can be created to meet the needs of the region. Because of industry demand, a new concentration in mechanical engineering will be offered on the Cullowhee campus beginning this fall.

For more information about engineering or any programs in WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, visit the website kimmel.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7368.

 

Collins selected to be the School Resource Officer for Smokey Mountain Elementary School

(07/25/13) Long Time Jackson County Law Officer Steve Collins has been hired to be the new School Resource Officer(SRO) for Smoky Mountain Elementary School. The Jackson County Sherriff’s Department and the School Board had requested that Jackson County add an additional School Resource Officer in at Smokey Mountain Elementary because of that school’s distance from the Sherriff’s Office in Sylva. The Jackson County Commissioners voted in June to fund the new SRO position.  Officer Collins brings many years of law enforcement experience to the position including several years as a border patrol officer. After returning to Jackson County Collins was employed by the local law enforcement agencies including the Western Carolina University Police Department. Officer Collins retired from the state and took care of his ailing father who was one of the few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors until his death in December. Collins will be rejoined with Sherriff Jimmy Ashe who was an officer with the Western Carolina University Police Department prior to being elected as the Jackson County Sherriff.

WCU Chancellor Announces Phasing Out of Some Academic Programs

Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher announced Thursday, that the university will proceed with the phased discontinuation of 10 of the 13 academic programs previously recommended by a campus task force for closure. Belcher also announced that programs in motion picture and television production, Spanish and Spanish education, which had been recommended for discontinuation, will be retained, with program directors responsible for developing action plans to address weaknesses and take steps toward improvement. Programs that will begin the process of phased discontinuation are a bachelor’s degree program in German; master’s degree programs in health and physical education, mathematics, mathematics education, music, music education and two master’s programs related to teaching English to speakers of other languages; and a minor in women’s studies. In addition, a total of eight programs have agreed to voluntarily discontinue operations because of low enrollment or similarity to other programs available at WCU. Those programs are undergraduate minors in American studies, Appalachian studies, broadcast sales, broadcast telecommunications engineering technology, digital communications engineering technology, earth sciences and multimedia; an undergraduate program in business designed as a second major for non-business students; and master’s degree programs in chemistry education and teaching music. Chancellor Belcher had the following to say about the decision; “I have explored quality indicators. I have considered the degree to which programs and their owners – faculty, coordinators, department heads – have been thoughtfully proactive, before the advent of program prioritization, in recruitment and retention efforts, and the degree to which they have been successful,” he said. “I have explored the differences between need in the region and actual demand for Western Carolina’s programs. And I have wrestled with potential impact of program loss.” Those programs slated for discontinuation will not be closed immediately. They will be placed on inactive status and will not enroll any additional students. The university is developing program-specific plans to “teach out” students currently enrolled in those programs, or to help them transition into a similar program at WCU or to another institution, as it follows best practices for the discontinuation of academic programs. “Western Carolina University cannot be all things to all people. It never could, but the economic climate of the last five years and the resulting budget reductions have made this fact, too often ignored, a blatant reality,” Belcher said. “Our university must focus, ensuring that it does not diffuse its efforts and resources, both fiscal and human, in so many directions that the institution jeopardizes the quality of all of its programs.” Decisions to eliminate academic programs are subject to the approval of the University of North Carolina system. Western Carolina also must follow specific guidelines required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, WCU’s official regional accrediting agency. Belcher’s announcement regarding his final decisions does not represent the last chapter in program prioritization at WCU. The university will integrate ongoing program prioritization into its regular cycle of program review, which will draw upon additional recommendations made by the task force related to improvements in the process and the data used for assessment.

Detailed information about program prioritization at WCU, including task force recommendations and final decision reports from the chancellor, can be found online at the website programprioritization.wcu.edu.

WCU’s Academic Success Program Set for this Saturday

Western Carolina University’s Academic Success Program (ASP) students have collaborated with the Town of Sylva, Walmart of Sylva, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, and several area nonprofits and businesses to host the third annual Day of Service this Saturday in the Bridge Park. The festival in the park will include games, food, music, and nonprofit vendors from 9am-1pm. At 11am, Harrah’s will provide a lunch fundraiser to include grilled flat iron steaks, grilled chicken, baby red potatoes, fire roasted corn salad, warm tortillas, and clover honey baklava. A kids’ lunch box will include a hot dog, potato chips, fresh apple slices, a fruit snack, and a toy surprise. Festival attendees can also enjoy local musicians, Sugar Barnes, Perfect Third, and John Luke Carter on the Bridge Park stage. In the evening, from 5-9pm, there will be a benefit concert in the Bridge Park, featuring local bands, P.M.A (Positive Mental Attitude) and Porch 40. Food vendors and nonprofits will be set up throughout the evening as well, and all proceeds and donations directly benefit the Community Table, Jackson Neighbors in Need, and Communities in Schools Great Smoky Mountains. Jack the Dipper Ice Cream will be set up in the park, selling ice cream at the morning festival, and during the evening celebration, donating 10% of the day’s sales to the three benefit organizations. Throughout the day, ASP students will be volunteering in a variety of service projects throughout Jackson County, to benefit Catman2, Appalachian Homestead Farm and Preserve, Sylva Rotary, river cleanup, Pathways Thrift Store, Full Spectrum Farms, and roadside cleanup along Highway 107 and Old Cullowhee Road. Support, volunteers, and donations from local businesses have helped to make this event possible. Walmart of Sylva has generously awarded a $500 grant to each of the benefit organizations: the Community Table, Jackson Neighbors in Need, and Communities in Schools. In addition to Walmart and Harrah’s, community sponsors include WRGC Radio, Signature Brew Coffee Company, the River Jordan Christian Store, In Your Ear Music, Friends of the Jackson County Public Library, Survival Pride Clothing, Heinzelmannchen​, Finders Keepers, City Lights Bookstore, Hollifield Jewelers, It’s By Nature, and Soul Infusion Tea House and Bistro. These businesses and organizations are providing prizes for a raffle sponsored by the Town of Sylva, hosting donation jars, and making monetary contributions to local nonprofits. Questions about the Day of Service can be directed to Glenda Hensley, at ghensley@email.​wcu.edu.

 

NC Dental Society & NC Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic a Success

Over this past weekend the NC Dental Society along with the NC Mission of Mercy operated a dental clinic at the Western Carolina Ramsey Center. Over the weekend more than $270,000 was spent on the set up for the dental clinic and dental work. Over 370 patients received dental work such as extractions or fillings. People started lining up around 4:30 pm on Thursday, the day before the dental clinic opened. So many showed up that volunteers had to turn patients away Friday when it became apparent that they would not be able to see everyone that day, giving them the option to wait or come back Saturday. WCU donated the area for the free dental clinic and several volunteers donated their time including, around 20 dentists, many of them local. The free dental clinic is a statewide program that has been offered by the NC Dental Society and the NC Mission of Mercy for the last ten years. Visit http://www.ncmom.info/ to see a schedule of future dates and areas of the free dental clinic.