Archive for March, 2014

Abram wins award for forthcoming book

Susan M. Abram, an adjunct history faculty member, is recipient of the 2013 Anne B. & James B. McMillan Prize from the University of Alabama Press for her forthcoming book, tentatively titled “The Forging of a Cherokee-American Alliance in the Creek War: From its Creation to its Betrayal.”

Susan Abram

Susan Abram

The University of Alabama Press Faculty Editorial Board, which consists of scholars from all Alabama public universities that award a doctoral degree, confers the endowed prize on the basis of scholarly excellence.

The board has awarded the prize, which includes a cash award and full publication of the work, annually since 1995 to the manuscript chosen as Most Deserving in Alabama or Sothern History or Culture.

“Susan Abram’s study of the Cherokee-American alliance in the Creek War exemplifies and continues the tradition of superlative scholarship the McMillan award was established to honor,” said Curtis Clark, UAP director. “As Alabama approaches the bicentennial of its statehood, Abram’s work sheds new light on the pivotal events that shaped the territory’s path to statehood and the shared history and relationships between Alabama’s diverse populations.”

The McMillan prize was established to honor James B. McMillan, founding director of the University of Alabama Press, former chairman of the university’s English department and a renowned dialectologist. The prize has recognized books on such diverse topics as Southern Baptists, civil rights, religion, Alabama politics, southern missionaries and southeastern archaeology.

Creasy presents at international conference

Todd Creasy, associate professor of management, presented “Out with the Old, In with the New – Process Changes for the ‘New Normal’” at ConExpo, an international conference held in Las Vegas and attended by more than 50,000 professionals in the mining, construction, heavy equipment, surveying and bridge-building industries.

Creasy’s presentation was based on a case study that will appear later this year in a peer-reviewed journal.

Sholder teaches Hitchcock course in Spain

Jack Sholder, director of the Film & Television Production Program, taught a three-week course on the films of Alfred Hitchcock at the Universidad de Alcala in Spain as part of the Consortium for Transatlantic Studies and Scholarship

Reitz presents, moderates panel at national conference

Christina L. Reitz, assistant professor of music, presented “Urbane or Profane: The Emergence of American Women Orchestras as Urban Entertainment” at the 35th annual national conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association held in Chicago.

Reitz also moderated the panel discussion “Musicians and the City” during the conference and has completed two terms on the board of directors. She was elected to chair the publicity committee for the organization.

Kossick to serve on national association’s scholarship committee

Dr. Mark A. Kossick, professor of nursing and graduate anesthesia simulation education coordinator, accepted an invitation to serve on the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation’s 2014 scholarship review committee. Responsibilities include critiquing submitted student essays and assisting in the selection of recipients for scholarships.

WCU featured on website of best practices and ideas for promoting election engagement

North Carolina Campus Compact has featured WCU’s “Citizenship and Civility” initiative on a webpage of college and university best practices that promoted election engagement around the 2012 presidential election.

“Citizenship and Civility” was WCU’s 2012-13 campuswide interdisciplinary learning theme, and faculty and staff members were encouraged to weave the theme into curricular and co-curricular activities. Held in connection with the theme were debate watch parties, issue discussions and a nonpartisan voter registration effort. WCU’s Honors College, Center for Service Learning, Public Policy Institute, student groups and other organizations helped register nearly 1,200 new voters in Jackson County.

N.C. Campus Compact is an organization committed to helping build the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically-engaged graduates and strengthen communities.

Battle of the Plug contest to include campuswide events

The third annual Battle of the Plug competition in which Western Carolina University and Appalachian State University compete to see which university’s residence halls can conserve the most energy will be held Friday, April 4, through Friday, April 25.

Battle of the Plug GraphicEach institution will measure which of its residence halls saves the greatest percentage of energy as well as how the percentage of energy reduction in participating buildings overall compares with the percentage of energy reduction at the rival institution. WCU won the title the first year of the Battle of the Plug contest in 2012, and ASU won last year.

Campuswide Battle of the Plug events at WCU include a “Be Ready for the Battle” kick-off to be held in Courtyard Dining Hall on Thursday, April 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. as well as a “Whee Do It in the Dark” dance party in the Cats Den on Saturday, April 26, from 7 to 11 p.m. The dance will feature a live deejay, games and food, and attendees are encouraged to wear white T-shirts and bring glowsticks.

To help celebrate WCU’s 125th anniversary, the competition also will have a “Livin’ 1889” component in which students are encouraged to turn off electronic devices and live like Western Carolina’s students did 125 years ago.

In addition, the event will tie in with WCU’s annual Earth and Wellness Celebration on Tuesday, April 15. Co-hosted by the WCU Energy Management Office and Campus Recreation and Wellness, the event combines the Earth Day celebration with health and wellness and will be held on the lawn of A.K. Hinds University Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will enjoy games, hula hooping, a drum circle and giveaways related to supporting health and the local community, and have the chance to visit more than 30 booths sponsored by community vendors and nonprofit and student organizations.

Support from the Student Government Association and the Resident Student Association also will enable giveaways throughout the event.

The winning residence hall at WCU not only will receive a set of CornHole gameboards but also a plaque, which will remain in the residence hall until next year’s competition.

For more information, visit the Battle of the Plug website and like the Battle of the Plug’s Facebook page.

WCU to host telescope viewing party April 4 at airport

Western 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.

Enrique Gomez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at WCU, will give a brief presentation on identifying well-known constellations and stars that can be seen in the sky during the spring season.

“In the past, this event has been popular with children and their parents, as well,” Gomez said. “Everyone remembers the first time they saw the moon through a telescope.”

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.

School of Music to present April Fools’ Day concert

The Western Carolina University School of Music will present an April Fools’ Day concert Tuesday, April 1, that will feature surprises and unusual talents of faculty musicians.

Faculty members performing in the concert will include Shannon Thompson, clarinet; Dan Cherry, trombone; Ian Jeffress, saxophone; Will Peebles, bassoon; Steve Wohlrab, guitar; and Eldred Spell, flute. Additional faculty members and students from the School of Music also will make appearances, including Bruce Frazier, the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music at WCU.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the recital hall of the Coulter Building. Admission is free. For more information, call the School of Music at 828-227-7242.

WCU shorelines program to screen documentary ‘Shored Up’ on April 6

Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines will screen the film “Shored Up,” a critically acclaimed documentary that examines the ways that different communities are trying to deal with coastal erosion, storms and rising sea levels.

Rob Young

Rob Young

The screening will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 6, in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus, with director Ben Kalina on hand to discuss the film. The documentary includes interviews with scientists, politicians, residents and a wide range of experts on issues of coastal management. Filmed over three years along the North Carolina Outer Banks and Long Beach Island, N.J., the motion picture culminates with a look at the impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Also participating in the event is Rob Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, who is among the policy and environmental experts who appear in the documentary. Young, professor of geosciences at WCU and co-author of the book “The Rising Sea,” said he hopes the film will bring increased attention to the twin problems of climate change and rising sea levels.

A discussion and reception will follow the screening, which is open to the public free of charge.

WCU researchers release 2014 Regional Outlook Report examining 23 WNC counties

A WCU research team has completed a comprehensive study of major demographic, economic, social and political issues and trends facing Western North Carolina, releasing their findings in a 2014 Regional Outlook Report designed to equip residents and policymakers with the information needed to make informed decisions about WNC’s future.

Student developing mobile application for learning the Japanese language

A Western Carolina University student is developing a mobile application to help Japanese students master language skills, including proper pronunciation and handwritten characters.

WCU, Isothermal officials finalize articulation agreements in business, nursing

Representatives of Isothermal Community College and Western Carolina University met recently to sign two articulation agreements to smooth the path for ICC students transferring to WCU to earn their bachelor’s degrees in business or nursing.

Faculty present at conference for international organization now headquartered at WCU

Three Western Carolina University faculty members recently presented papers at the 51st annual international conference of the Public Choice Society at which Edward J. Lopez, a WCU professor of economics and BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism, completed his tenure as president of the society. Lopez, who moved the organization’s headquarters from George Mason University to WCU last year, is now the society’s permanent executive director.

At the conference, which was held in Charleston, S.C., Lopez organized and chaired four plenary sessions that featured top scholars of politics and economics, including Dani Rodrik of the Institute for Advanced Study and Sam Peltzman of the University of Chicago. Lopez also organized 72 concurrent sessions on which nearly 300 scholars from 22 countries presented research papers.

Todd Collins, associate professor of political science and public affairs and director of WCU’s Public Policy Institute, chaired a session at the conference titled “Principal Agent Problems” and presented a paper he co-authored with Chris Cooper, associate professor and head of the WCU Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, titled “A ‘Court’ of Public Opinion? Influences on Judicial Decision Making in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Stephen Miller, associate professor of economics, presented “Income Inequality and Income Shifting: A New Way to Understand the Piketty-Saez Data.”

The Public Choice Society is an international professional association of social scientists studying collective action in both government and private settings such as group cooperatives and voluntary associations. The organization started in 1963 when a small group of economists, political scientists, sociologists and others sought to provide a forum for exchange of ideas across disciplines. Their research grew into a school of thought known as the rational choice approach to politics and government. Three of the society’s 26 presidents have won the Nobel Prize in economics.

Collins presents at national event

Dr. Shawn Collins, interim associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences and director of the nurse anesthesia program, recently presented a peer-reviewed lecture at the 2014 AANA Assembly of School Faculty held in San Diego. His lecture was titled “A Paradigm Shift: Emotional Intelligence in Anesthesia.”

Kossick presents at North Carolina state meeting

Dr. Mark A. Kossick, professor of nursing, presented on March 8 two lectures at the 2014 North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists District III/IV Meeting held in Concord. His lectures were titled “Understanding the Diagnostic Criteria and Anesthetic Implications for Bundle Branch Blocks” and “Anesthesia Review and Update on the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation.”

Fire-damaged buildings removed

Demolition of fire-damaged buildings on campus that were home to three businesses began in March.

Demolition of fire-damaged buildings on campus that were home to three businesses began in March.

Demolition began in March of buildings in a commercial strip along Centennial Drive that were damaged by fire last fall.

The fire-damaged areas were home to Subway, Rolling Stone Burrito and Mad Batter Bakery and Cafe.

A private developer will be sought to build a mixed-use facility on the site with a goal of occupancy in August 2016. Owners of the existing developments along the commercial strip, including those affected by the fire, will have the right of first refusal for commercial space in the new building.

Health and physical education students and faculty meet with legislators

Western Carolina University health and physical education students and faculty recently took part in the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s sixth annual SPEAK Out! Day on Capitol Hill.

Taking part were WCU students majoring in health and physical education including Beth Arney from Hickory, Jon Benken from Atlanta, Kyle Bernier from Murphy and Kaylie Dean from Oxford, as well as health and physical education faculty members David Claxton and Tom Watterson.

Participants sought support for co-sponsors of the Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life Act, or PHYSICAL Act. The bill designates physical education and health education as core subjects, making them eligible for federal funding under Title I and Title II. The funding would help school districts expand physical education and health education programs and professional development for teachers, leading to potential opportunities to dedicate weekly physical activity time, enhanced classroom instruction or development of creative health programs.

WCU representatives in Washington, D.C., for SPEAK Out! Day included, from left, Tom Watterson, Jon Benken, Kyle Bernier, Beth Arney and Kaylie Dean.

WCU representatives in Washington, D.C., for SPEAK Out! Day included, from left, Tom Watterson, Jon Benken, Kyle Bernier, Beth Arney and Kaylie Dean.

The students also encouraged continued support for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, a grant program in which federal funds support physical education.

“The research is clear on the impact that physical education has on all aspects of a student’s life, from improved academics and behavior in the classroom to increased confidence to excel in other endeavors, both personal and academic, as well as the obvious proven health benefits of being physically active,” said Claxton. “We hope that we helped our legislators understand the importance of having health and physical education recognized as core subjects so that educators at the local level will have the choice to spend federal dollars on health and physical education if they think that is where the money should be spent.”

WCU students and faculty shared stories on the impact of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program on the local level and their interest in seeing passage of more stringent mandates for physical education and health education.

In North Carolina, each school district requires students enrolled in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grade levels below high school to participate in physical activity as part of the district’s physical education curriculum. The amount of time and days per week are left up to each school.

Watterson said adding physical education to the core standards will enable educators to be able to show how successful students can be in their overall health and well-being.

“This overall health extends outside the classroom and has a great impact on the students’ standard of living for the rest of their lives,” said Watterson.

“This overall health extends outside the classroom and has a great impact on the students’ standard of living for the rest of their lives,” said Watterson. For more information about WCU’s health and physical education programs, visit

March 24 concert fundraiser at WCU to feature A.W. Duo

The acclaimed classical music duo of Alyona Aksyonova and James Waldo will be featured in a Monday, March 24, concert at Western Carolina University to benefit United Christian Ministries of Jackson County and the WCU Honors College’s student study abroad fund.

The A.W. Duo will be featured in a fundraising concert Monday, March 24, at WCU.

The A.W. Duo will be featured in a fundraising concert Monday, March 24, at WCU.

Known as the A.W. Duo, the husband-and-wife team will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the recital hall of WCU’s Coulter Building. Tickets are $5 for students and $15 for all others.

Aksyonova, a pianist from Russia, and Waldo, an American cellist, met and began playing together while attending graduate studies at Mannes College in New York City. Based in Manhattan, the duo is beginning its second season of professional engagements this spring, including performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.; the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival; and appearances in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Ellen Dressler Moryl, founder and artistic director emeritus of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, has called the A.W. Duo “exciting…ravishing…divine.” “These gifted young players are true artists who can transport the listeners in their audience straight to heaven,” she said.

The program for the concert will include works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Ayumi Okada, Alexander Scriabin, Chandler Carter and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Funding for the A.W. Duo’s appearance at WCU is being provided by two members of the Honors College’s Advisory Board from Highlands, Dr. Mark Whitehead and his wife, Kathy Whitehead, said Brian Railsback, dean of the college.

“This opportunity provided to us by both the Whiteheads and the A.W. Duo allows us to serve members of our community through United Christian Ministries and the students of the Honors College through one great evening of music,” Railsback said. “I hope to see an audience of students, faculty, staff and community members coming together for two important causes. WCU and the community achieve so much working together like this.”

Railsback said he is proud of the Honors College student board of directors, who could have planned the event as just a fundraiser for the student study abroad fund, but instead chose to include their community partner, United Christian Ministries.

Prior to the March 24 performance, Aksyonova and Waldo will present a workshop focusing on the business aspects of their artistic lives at 4 p.m. in the Catamount Room of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. The workshop is open to everyone.

A reception will be held following the evening concert.

Tickets will be available in advance and at the door. For advance tickets, contact Bonnie Beam in WCU’s Honors College office at 828-227-7383 or

Graduate-level social work program reaccredited

Western Carolina University’s master’s of social work program recently earned re-accreditation that extends through 2022.

The Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation voted to reaffirm the accreditation after reviewing a self study, site visit report and response to the report

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


Africa! More Than A Continent