Archive for August 13th, 2014

Faculty and staff present at summer institute centered on the Cherokee homeland

Andrew Denson, associate professor of history; Jane Eastman, associate professor of anthropology; Roseanna S. Belt, director of the Cherokee Center; and Tom Belt, coordinator of the university’s Cherokee Language Program; served as faculty for “Beyond the Trail of Tears: A View from the Cherokee Homeland,” a three-week summer institute held in early July at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

Twenty-seven kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from eight states took part in the institute to examine the forced removal of thousands of Cherokees from their homes in the East to land west of the Mississippi River, often called the Trail of Tears, following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

Teachers had the chance to hear from and talk with Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and took part in several field experiences in Western North Carolina to build knowledge and understanding.

“Having the opportunity to be here to talk with sources really helps me in bringing this history home to my students,” said Peter Trentacoste, a teacher at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, Ariz.

Danielle Dietz, a teacher at Bunn High School in Franklin County, said she and her husband, John, recently moved to North Carolina and took part in the institute to learn more about the state’s history.

“This was a great experience with an intense look at this subject,” said Dietz. “The resources and time here can really help me explain this in my classroom.”

The institute was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Bailey presents at institute and symposium

Herb Bailey, director of gift planning in the Office of Development, recently presented “Increasing Your ROI: The 3-Part Ask” at the Western North Carolina Association of Fundraising Professionals 2014 Philanthropy Institute held in Flat Rock. He also presented as part of a panel discussing planned giving and major giving partnerships at the University of North Carolina System Advancement Symposium held in Charlotte.

In addition, Bailey was recently re-certified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive by CFRE International.

WCU ranked among ‘most technologically savvy online schools’

Western Carolina University has received a high national ranking on a list of “The 30 Most Technologically Savvy Online Schools.”

The Online Schools Center, based in Lexington, Tennessee, ranked WCU at No. 10 on a list of universities “that offer the discerning distance learner the finest education using the most progressive technology.”

In its review of WCU, the website’s writer Luke Paton wrote that “Distance students at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, can augment their education with the use of live streaming video and audio, as well as with remote access to their instructors. The school began offering distance education in 1997, and it constantly endeavors to take maximum advantage of the changes in information and communications technologies.” The website also mentions services offered to online learners by WCU’s Hunter Library.

Early this year, WCU was listed by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best providers of online bachelor’s degree programs. The magazine put WCU in 34th place among 205 schools in a category titled “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.” A few months later, U.S. News & World Report gave WCU a high national ranking for having online options that are veteran-friendly.

The Online School Center’s website is General information about WCU’s online programs is available at the website or by calling the university’s Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397.

Convocation, Ballyhoo to open fall semester

Western Carolina University’s new freshmen will receive their official welcome to the university and all WCU students will have an opportunity to do some beginning-of-fall-semester celebrating during two annual events – Freshman Convocation and Valley Ballyhoo.

WCU’s entering students will be welcomed as the newest members of the university community during convocation that begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center. Speakers will include Alison Morrison-Shetlar, provost; Garrett Whipkey, Student Government Association president; and Annette Debo, English professor and winner of the 2014 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Chancellor David O. Belcher will provide the convocation address and deliver his charge to members of the class. Music will be provided by WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, and Susan Belcher, wife of the chancellor, will lead the audience in singing the national anthem. David Starnes, director of the Pride of the Mountains, will lead singing of WCU’s alma mater.

The Valley Ballyhoo celebration will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, on the A.K. Hinds University Center lawn and Central Plaza.

More than 5,000 WCU students typically attend Valley Ballyoo each year to browse for freebies among information tables set up by campus and community organizations and vendors. A total of about 175 organizations and vendors will be represented at the event this year, said Kim Corelli, an assistant director at the University Center. The event also will feature music by the local band Mangas Colorado from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., inflatable yard toys, food vendors and other entertainment.

For more information about Freshman Convocation and Valley Ballyhoo, contact A.K. Hinds University Center at 828-227-7206.

Students, faculty to help build playground; more volunteers sought

The playground to be built at Cullowhee Valley School has multiple elements. (Image courtesy Sloan Despeaux)

The playground to be built at Cullowhee Valley School has multiple elements. (Image courtesy Sloan Despeaux)

WCU students and faculty are among the volunteers who will help build a new playground at Cullowhee Valley School on Friday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 16, and more volunteers are sought.

Work will get underway at 8 a.m. on both days, and volunteers can assist for several hours or for the whole day. Jobs are available for people of all ages, and children are welcome. Members of the WCU Dance Team and WHEE Teach student organization already have stepped forward to assist, and the WCU Center for Service Learning is encouraging more people to volunteer.

Sloan Despeaux, associate professor of mathematics, said she got involved with the project as a parent who will have two children at Cullowhee Valley School this fall. Despeaux realized there was a need for new playground equipment and wrote multiple grant requests to help fund the project. Her efforts yielded support from a $15,000 “Let’s Play” grant, which was made possible through a partnership of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group with KaBOOM!, and a $5,000 “Healthy Active Communities” grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. In addition, the school’s PTA raised $10,000 for the effort, and the school directed $10,000 to the project.

“I believe that our kids need to be active while they are in school,” said Despeaux. “I know that I do some of my best thinking when I’m outside, so I wanted to give them the opportunity to play and open their minds to the great outdoors. The new playground is going to be amazing.”

Despeaux also said the project offers a great opportunity for faculty and staff to use some of their community service leave in order to take part on Friday.

For more information, call 828-293-5667 or visit

Free food planned for WCU Big Birthday Bash garnering attention

The Big Birthday Bash to be held Tuesday, Aug. 26, in honor of the 125th anniversary of Western Carolina University’s founding will feature an array of festive foods from cotton candy to fried Oreos – all available free of charge to attendees.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on the lawn of A.K. Hinds University Center and adjoining Central Plaza.

In addition to live music, old-fashioned games and photo opportunities, guests will have the chance to enjoy other tasty treats including barbecue, hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, kettle corn, popcorn, watermelon, funnel cakes, fried Snickers, root beer floats, raspberry lemonade, tea, Pepsi products and birthday cake.

Zeta Smith, WCU director of special events and co-chair of the committee planning the bash, said many have said they are looking forward to trying fried Snickers and fried Oreos.

“These two seem to be a ‘gotta try’ item for young and old,” said Smith. “Kettle corn and root beer floats also are getting a ‘yummy’ response.”

Having a big get-together with food is part of the WCU tradition. Historically, the institution that became WCU hosted elaborate commencement exercises that would last three days, and the Cullowhee community would exhibit “lavish hospitality,” offering free food and lodging to visitors who traveled from a distance, according to an article by WCU founder Robert L. Madison that was published Aug. 6, 1938, in the Asheville Citizen.

“Some near-by homes had as many as 50 at a single meal,” wrote Madison in the article, which was shared by George Frizzell, head of Special Collections at WCU’s Hunter Library.

For more information about the Big Birthday Bash, visit the WCU news story “Big Birthday Bash on Aug. 26 to help mark WCU’s 125th year” online or call 828-227-3033. For more information about other 125th anniversary events, visit the website

Faculty Forum publication highlights life in Cullowhee community

The first issue of Faculty Forum for the 2014-15 academic year features articles that explore living and working in Cullowhee and the surrounding area.

Submissions from faculty members include “36 Hours in Greater Cullowhee” by Mary Jean R. Herzog from the School of Teaching and Learning and the publication’s editor; “Hiking” by Maurice Phipps from the Parks and Recreation Management Program; “Biking” by Christopher Cooper from the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs; “Children’s Activities” by Libby McRae from the Department of History; “Surf’s Up!” by Hal Herzog from the Department of Psychology; “Fishing” by David Claxton from the School of Teaching and Learning; and “Miscellaneous Joys of Not Commuting” by Brian Gastle from the Department of English.

The issue is available online at

Budget cuts, enrollment growth among topics tackled at WCU Opening Assembly

The collective efforts of faculty and staff to attract and retain larger numbers of students at Western Carolina University are helping the institution weather lingering budget constraints that otherwise would hamstring efforts to improve academic quality and enhance the student experience.

Process to reaffirm university accreditation gets underway

The comprehensive, three-year process to reaffirm WCU’s accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has begun, and faculty, staff and students will have opportunities to take part.

Stephen Miller to direct WCU’s accreditation reaffirmation effort

“Dr. Miller’s experience with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, exemplary roles as a member of Faculty Senate and faculty member, incredible organizational skills and commitment to Western Carolina University make him an excellent candidate for shepherding us through the SACSCOC reaffirmation process,” said Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar.

UNC Board of Governors to meet at WCU in September

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors will hold its September meeting on the Western Carolina campus in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the founding of the institution that became WCU.

Arts Alive @ 125 event on Sept. 2 to benefit arts group

Western Carolina University’s first couple will host a show celebrating 125 years of the arts at WCU called “Arts Alive @ 125” in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

WCU students win top prizes at energy summit

Students in Western Carolina University’s computer science and environmental science programs presented their capstone projects at the Appalachian Energy Summit in Boone and returned to WCU with two grand prizes.

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

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