Archive for July, 2014

Professor participates in Cessna flight from WNC to Alaska, plans trip around the world

From left, Thomas Stovall and Debasish Banerjee prepare for flight.

From left, Thomas Stovall and Debasish Banerjee prepare for flight.

Two years ago, Debasish Banerjee, professor of computer information systems, and Franklin retiree J. Thomas Stovall flew a Cessna 182 from Franklin across the country, into Canada and on to Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point of the United States.

Stovall chronicled the 14-day round-trip adventure, which included a landing in which the duo could not see a horizon because of dense smoke, in an article that was published in the Macon County News.

Now, Banerjee is planning a trip around the world in a single engine plan to raise awareness of diabetes. The flight will take place in the summer of 2015 and is connected to Banerjee’s nonprofit organization, Awareness Education and Prevention of Diabetes. He also will be hosting meetings and events in advance of the flight to raise awareness of the disease in Western North Carolina. Banerjee has diabetes and said several of his family members have suffered dire consequences of having the disease. “That’s the motivation, he said.

Tomczak wins national teaching award

Karyn Tomczak

Karyn Tomczak

Karyn Tomczak, assistant professor and director of the WCU dance program, will receive one of Dance Teacher magazine’s 2014 awards recognizing excellence in teaching dance at the Dance Teacher Summit to be held in New York City in August.

The magazine published a feature about Tomczak and other winners in the July issue.

Paper co-authored by Marvel wins award at international symposium

A paper co-authored by Jon Marvel, associate professor of management, and presented at the 2014 International Supply Chain Symposium held in Edmonton, Alberta, in June received the symposium’s Best Paper Award. The paper was titled “Lean, Green, or Resilient? An Explorative Study of Manufacturing Firms.”

Supply chains adopt a variety of strategies to respond to market changes and increased environmental turbulence. The research team investigated how the level of integration of the strategies typically adopted by manufacturing companies to improve competitiveness impacts the performance of the firms.

Manners wins national athletic training award

Jill Manners, associate professor, has no difficulty getting students to raise their hands in class. She simply asks them to, as she demonstrates clinical techniques.

Jill Manners, associate professor and director of the athletic training program at WCU, was selected as one of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award recipients for 2014.

The award is presented to NATA members who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to leadership, volunteer service, advocacy and distinguished professional activities as an athletic trainer.

Manners, a Cullowhee resident, began teaching at WCU in 2004 and was named director of the athletic training program in 2010. She received the North Carolina Athletic Trainer’s Association’s Educator of the Year Award in 2009 and the Gail Weldon Award of Excellence in 2013.

For more information, visit the WCU news site.

Bose, Marvel and Schilling to participate in UNC-system event centered on online course development

Three WCU faculty members have been selected through a competitive process to participate in the University of North Carolina General Administration’s inaugural i3@UNC Incubator event, which will be held in August at WCU’s Biltmore Park site. The event is a multiday intensive workshop event for developing online courses that fit the needs of the state of North Carolina.

Selected to participate from WCU are Indrani Bose, assistant professor of biology; Jon Marvel, associate professor of management; and Ethan Schilling, assistant professor of psychology. Upon completion, Bose, Marvel and Schilling will be named i3@UNC Faculty Fellows and will work closely with UNC General Administration and the Coulter Faculty Commons to facilitate high quality online teaching and learning.

Robison honored by North Carolina Dietetic Association

Sherry Robison, assistant professor and internship director for the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at Western Carolina University, was recently awarded the North Carolina Dietetic Association’s Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award for 2014.

Sherry Robison

Sherry Robison

Candidates are selected based upon demonstrated innovative teaching skills, mentoring skills and leadership skills.

Robison was applauded for her “expansion of partnerships with the community and providing unique opportunities for student learning,” said Sherry Held, a former preceptor for the dietetic internship program at WCU.

Janette Hammett, a WCU alumna and the child nutrition director at Cherokee Central Schools, credited Robison for support she received to advance professionally. “I strongly believe that my pursuit of higher education and the drive to climb the professional ladder is due to Sherry’s mentorship and support she provided me during my term in the dietetic internship,” said Hammett.

Robison also is a leader in local food and Farm to School initiatives and an advocate for local, sustainable food systems.

“Sherry is an outstanding partner and a strong leader in the community as well as among dietetics across the country in implementing an innovative program that teaches nutrition and dietetics students and interns about local food, Farm to School and hands-on education,” said Amy Paxton-Aiken, who works with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in Asheville.

Hartley addresses Tennessee Judicial Conference, authors Arizona Law Review article

Roger E. Hartley, director of the master’s degree program in public affairs and professor of political science and public affairs, gave an invited talk titled “Building Effective Intergovernmental Relations” at the Tennessee Judicial Conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The talk was based on his research into how courts lobby other branches of government.

Also, the Arizona Law Review recently published an article by Hartley titled “’It’s Called Lunch’: Judicial Ethics and the Political and Legal Space for the Judiciary to Lobby.”

Reitz co-authors article in Journal of Library Administration

Christina L. Reitz, assistant professor of music, co-authored “Information Literacy in Music History: Fostering Success in Teaching and Learning,” which will be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Library Administration. The article by Reitz and former WCU librarian Alessia Zanin-Yost is the culmination of two years of collaborative work centered on undergraduate music history research methodology.

WCU Institutional Planning and Effectiveness staff members lead sessions at national conference

Staff members from the WCU Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness led sessions at the Association for Institutional Research Annual Forum in Orlando, Florida, in May. Elizabeth Snyder, social-clinical research specialist, and Billy Hutchings, social-clinical research assistant, conducted a roundtable discussion on “Improving Online Course Evaluation Processes and Increasing Response Rates.” David Onder, director of assessment, and Alison Joseph, business and technology applications analyst, made three presentations at the conference, including a three-and-a-half-hour pre-conference workshop with 50 participants titled “Power Tools for IR Reporting: Hands-on Introduction.” Two additional presentations, “Reporting Program-Level Student Success Measures” and “’Power’ Tools for IR Reporting,” were well-attended, with the latter having an estimated audience of more than 250 people, making it one of the most popular concurrent sessions of the conference.

Jicha’s artwork featured in Wilmington exhibit

An exhibit of new work by Jon Jicha, professor of graphic design, was featured in an exhibit titled “Awkward Sensibility” held at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington.

Registration still open for Employee Summer Challenge

WCU employees can still register for W.H.E.E. for Life’s Employee Summer Challenge, which concludes Friday, July 25.

Participants in the WCU Employee Summer Challenge take part in a yoga class.

Participants in the WCU Employee Summer Challenge take part in a yoga class.

Patrick HInkle visits a farmers' market, one of the activities included in the WCU Employee Summer Challenge.

Patrick Hinkle visits a farmers’ market, one of the activities included in the WCU Employee Summer Challenge.

The event encourages WCU faculty and staff to participate in various wellness activities. For every two activities completed, participants earn a prize.

The challenge will wrap up on July 25 with an event at noon in the Courtyard Dining Hall. There will be food, fun and more prizes. Lunch costs $5 at the all-you-care-to-eat venue on Fridays.

For more information or to register to participate in the summer challenge, email

WCU team takes part in AAC&U Institute

Western Carolina University was one of 40 institutions selected from across the country to participate in the Association of American Colleges and Universities Summer Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success. The institute was held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in June.

AAC&U summer institutes are designed to enable teams from colleges and universities to work collaboratively on a project important to their campuses and a curriculum focused on important trends, research and best practices, with a resident faculty of educational experts. Participants of the Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success will work on projects related to improving completion rates and the quality of student learning, and address barriers to student success and devise integrative learning-centered plans.

The team from WCU sought to focus on creating a new learning community model that extends beyond students’ first years and connects them with other high-impact experiential learning opportunities such as undergraduate research, international experiences, co-ops and internships, and service learning. Their goals included increasing access to education among underserved populations, increasing participation of underrepresented groups at the degree-program level and improving student success and retention, said Chesney Reich, director of the Writing and Learning Commons at WCU.

Participating from WCU in addition to Reich, the team’s leader, were Lowell Davis, assistant vice chancellor of the Division of Student Success; Mark Lord, head of the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources; Alex Macaulay, associate professor of history; and Gayle Wells, associate professor of health and physical education.

A.J. Grube, head of WCU’s Business Administration and Law and Sport Management Department, assisted the team with the application to participate.

For more information, contact Reich at or 828-227-2273.

WCU participates in Asheville Buzz breakfast

WCU participants in the Asheville Buzz breakfast included, from left, Alison Morrison-Shetlar, Robin Oliver, Jessica Shirley, Jolene Elkins, Patsy Miller, Tony Johnson and Chad Gerrety.

WCU participants in the Asheville Buzz breakfast included, from left, Alison Morrison-Shetlar, Robin Oliver, Jessica Shirley, Jolene Elkins, Patsy Miller, Tony Johnson and Chad Gerrety.

WCU sponsored a table at a breakfast held in June as part of Leadership Asheville’s Asheville Buzz Summer Breakfast Series. Leadership Asheville is committed to enhancing community leadership by developing, connecting and mobilizing people in the region, and the summer breakfast series sessions include panel discussions on topics such as entertaining Asheville, young innovators and secrets to enduring businesses.

Participants at the session in June from WCU included Jolene Elkins, associate vice chancellor for administration and finance; Chad Gerrety, associate athletic director for external affairs; Tony Johnson, executive director of Millennial Initiatives; Patsy Miller, director of WCU Programs in Asheville; Alison Morrison-Shetlar, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Robin Oliver, director of marketing; and Jessica Shirley, director of nursing student services.

‘Prove Your Purple’ campaign underway

WCU’s Department of Athletics is giving Catamount pride a new name with the “Prove Your Purple” campaign.

The campaign urges WCU students, faculty, staff and alumni to invest in and support student-athletes by donating to the Catamount Club, purchasing season tickets, attending Catamount games and cheering on the team, which will help WCU rise to the top of the Southern Conference.

For more information, visit the Catamount Athletics news site.

New Campus Dining Services partnership to benefit Community Table

WCU’s Campus Dining Services entered a partnership in May with Food Donation Connection to better track and facilitate the donation of surplus food that would expire before it can be served to be used at nonprofit organizations such as the Community Table in Sylva.

Campus Dining Services staff members discussing surplus food donation last fall were contacted by Willie Jones, an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Center for Service Learning working with food security, about donating procedures. The team reached out to the corporate office of Aramark, WCU’s food service partner, for assistance developing a more formal process, and was connected with Food Donation Connection, a global network committed to helping restaurants and food service companies donate rather than discard surplus food. Food Donation Connection programs have specific guidelines to ensure the safety of food donations for tracking how much food is donated.

“We are excited to partner with this program as it is a great opportunity to give back and assist our local community,” said Sarah Caruso, marketing coordinator for Aramark at WCU. “There are so many people locally who go hungry each day. Being able to provide any assistance to make a difference in their lives is a value Aramark and WCU both agree on and work together towards.”

Bardo Arts Center receives national accolade listed WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center among “The 25 Most Amazing University Performing Arts Centers.”

The website listed the Bardo Arts Center at No. 19 and said the facility “combines a state-of-the-art space with a naturally beautiful setting to promote the arts education throughout the region.”

The Bardo Arts Center, which houses WCU’s School of Art and Design, opened in 2005 with a performance by Jay Leno. The facility includes a 1,000-seat performance hall and houses WCU’s Fine Art Museum.

Criminal justice ranked No. 1 ‘Best Buy’ by website

The distance education information website ranked WCU’s online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at No. 1 in affordability.

The program was ranked the top “Best Buy” for students seeking a “high quality, low-cost” online criminal justice degree following a national survey of 43 regionally accredited higher education institutions that offer online bachelor’s degrees in the same subject area, said Melissa Eubank, director of information services for

For more information, visit the WCU news site.

Leadership Retreat participants explore balance

The fourth annual day-long WCU Leadership Retreat held at A.K. Hinds University Center drew a record 118 participants from across the campus community and from some of WCU’s partners. The theme for 2014 was “Finding Your Balance,” and participants explored the role balance plays in successful leadership.

Jeffrey L. Ray to lead the Kimmel School

Jeffrey L. Ray, dean of the School of Engineering Technology and Management at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, will be the next dean of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology at Western Carolina University.

WestCare to open primary care clinic in Health and Human Sciences Building

WestCare Health will launch a new full-time primary care clinic in the Health and Human Sciences Building on the West Campus of Western Carolina University, with a targeted opening in September.

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

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Commencement 2017


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