Archive for October 1st, 2014

Hartley and English co-author article about state courts

Roger E. Hartley, professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs and director of the master’s degree program in public affairs, and Melissa English, assistant professor of business law, co-authored an article titled “The State of State Courts: Efforts to Improve Interbranch Relations in the Wake of Perceptions of Crisis.”

The article was included in “The Book of the States” published by the Council of State Governments and examines existing research on how courts do intergovernmental relations work and the need for the development of best practices.

UNC system highlights program directed by Cruz with three participating WCU faculty members

Laura Cruz, director of WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons, served as the i3@UNC program director.

Laura Cruz, director of WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons, served as the i3@UNC program director.

The University of North Carolina system recently published a story and video about the inaugural UNC Instructional Innovation Incubator, a 10-day fellowship program held at WCU’s site at Biltmore Park for 24 faculty members from 10 campuses.

Indrani Bose, WCU assistant professor of biology, talks with DJ Watt, vice president of sales and marketing for Social Learning Solutions, a provider of Mobius SLIP, at the inaugural University of North Carolina system Instructional Innovation Incubator.

Indrani Bose, WCU assistant professor of biology, talks with DJ Watt, vice president of sales and marketing for Social Learning Solutions, a provider of Mobius SLIP, at the inaugural University of North Carolina system Instructional Innovation Incubator.

Hosted by the system’s Office of Learning Technology and Innovation, the workshop was designed to help fellows develop high-quality online courses that fit the needs of the state of North Carolina. Laura Cruz, director of WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons, served as the i3@UNC program director and participants included WCU faculty members Indrani Bose, assistant professor of biology; Jon Marvel, associate professor of management; and Ethan Schilling, assistant professor of psychology.

Fellows worked under the guidance of state and national experts in instructional technology and design. The article said the workshop blended the “entrepreneurial energy of a technology incubator with evidence-based pedagogical practice, drawn from education” and quoted Cruz saying i3 fellow are challenged to “not just follow best practices in online teaching and learning, but to define them.”

The UNC system currently offers 324 online degree and certificate programs that serve approximately 70,000 of its 221,000 students. The system launched a redesigned website this fall that helps degree candidates discover online programs.

The article “UNC Professors Craft Online Courses at i3@UNC” includes comments from Cruz and Marvel, and is available online at

NC Senate candidates debate Thursday

The third and final in a series of political debates sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and Department of Political Science and Public Affairs will be held Thursday, Oct. 2.

Jim Davis

Jim Davis

The WCU Political Debate Series will wrap up with the contenders for the N.C. Senate District 50 seat, with incumbent Jim Davis (R-Macon) and opponent Jane Hipps (D-Haywood). The debate will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building on WCU’s West Campus beginning at 7 p.m.

The debate series got underway Thursday, Sept. 4, with opponents for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 – incumbent Mark Meadows (R-Jackson) and challenger Tom Hill (D-Henderson).

That was followed by a debate featuring candidates in the N.C. House of Representatives District 119 race, which pits incumbent Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) against Mike Clampitt (R-Swain).

Jane Hipps

Jane Hipps

All debates are being broadcast live online by WLOS-TV on

Topics discussed during each of the debates are selected from questions submitted in advance to the PPI. Questions must be submitted by registered voters in the district, should be emailed to, and must include the name of the sender and the county of residence.

For more information about the WCU Political Debate Series, contact the Public Policy Institute at 828-227-3898.

Mountain Heritage Day draws crowd

Saw demonstrations were part of the festivities at WCU's 2014 Mountain Heritage Day.

Saw demonstrations were part of the festivities at WCU’s 2014 Mountain Heritage Day.

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day welcomed thousands of visitors to the campus Saturday, Sept. 27, to honor achievements in historic preservation and to sample mountain music, arts, crafts, foods, traditions, games and activities.

Speaking on the day of the event on the sun-bathed festival grounds, Carol Burton of the WCU Provost’s office expressed appreciation for the people of the committee she served as interim chair ,who planned and managed the event. “They’ve done a wonderful job; the weather has been outstanding; and you couldn’t hope for better attendance.”

Several of the region’s outstanding cultural contributors were recognized in brief ceremonies at midday. Davy Arch, internationally renowned artist and mask-maker, was recognized as the individual recipient of the Mountain Heritage Award. Receiving the organization award was the Bethel Rural Community Organization.

See photos from the 40th annual festival on The Reporter’s Flickr page.

WCU’s fall foliage forecaster says outlook improving for WNC leaf-peepers

The outlook for a bright leaf season is improving, as Western Carolina University fearless fall foliage forecaster Kathy Mathews has updated her prediction about the quality of the annual color show, based on changing conditions in the mountains.

“The weather patterns that we have been having in Western North Carolina in recent weeks should mean a brighter display of fall colors than originally thought,” said Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics. “The drier, sunnier weather improves our chances of a brilliant fall color season.”

Visit the WCU news site for the full story.

WCU astronomer hosting Oct. 8 eclipse viewing at Jackson County Airport

A Western Carolina University astronomer will host a “star party” at the Jackson County Airport on Wednesday, Oct. 8, to give the public a chance to observe a total lunar eclipse.

Lunar eclipses occur when the moon, Earth and sun are aligned so that the shadow of the Earth is cast on the moon. During a total eclipse, the moon is completely covered by the Earth’s shadow. Unlike total solar eclipses, when the moon comes in between the Earth and sun, lunar eclipses can be viewed safely with the naked eye.

Paul Heckert, WCU professor of astronomy and physics, will set up telescopes for viewing the eclipse by 5 a.m. “The eclipse will start to become visible when the moon enters the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow at 5:15 a.m.,” Heckert said. “Totality (when the moon is completely in the Earth’s shadow) will begin at 6:25 a.m. and end an hour later just before sunrise and moonset. The moon will be low in the west but the airport provides a good western horizon for observing it.”

Attendees can watch the eclipse progress, but Heckert said he also may point the telescopes at other interesting celestial bodies.

The star party is free and open to everyone. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly since the event will take place outside. If the sky is completely overcast, the event will be canceled.

For more information, contact Heckert at 828-227-3677 by Tuesday, Oct. 7.

‘Militarization’ of American policing to be focus of Oct. 7 forum at WCU

Local police departments’ use of military weaponry, SWAT and decommissioned military gear, known as the “militarization” of American policing, and its impact on communities, the general public and police officers will be the focus of a forum Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Western Carolina University.

The event will be held at 8 p.m. in the conference room of Blue Ridge Hall. It is free and open to the public.

WCU criminology and criminal justice faculty members Kyle Burgason,Tom Johnson, Ophir Sefiha and Fred Hawley will join Ernie Hudson, chief of WCU police, in discussing the topic “Police Militarization: Emerging Perspectives in Historical Context.”

Military weapons have been in use for police work since SWAT teams emerged in the 1960s and expanded as a consequence of the war on drugs. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government expanded a Department of Defense program that helps fortify local police departments by making surplus military equipment available to them.

In August, heavily armed police officers using the equipment clashed with protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white officer. President Barack Obama ordered a review of the federal program because of the police response in Ferguson.

“Our hope is that this forum will help clarify some of the issues involved nationally because of the recent events and to bring historical, political, social and professional perspectives to a community discussion about American policing,” said Hawley.

Forum sponsors include WCU’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Center for Service Learning, Honors College and Criminal Justice Club.

For more information, contact the criminology and criminal justice department at 828-227-2171.

Brannon wins grant to work on Cherokee printmaking

Frank Brannon (Image courtesy SpeakEasy News)

Frank Brannon (Image courtesy SpeakEasy News)

Frank Brannon, an adjunct instructor in WCU’s School of Art and Design and book artist from Dillsboro, has been selected to receive the first Mary B. Regan Residency Grant for a project to revitalize the Cherokee language through his artistry as a letterpress printer.

Brannon’s one-year project is based on his work with a program he supports at Southwestern Community College in Swain County, near Cherokee, where students are learning the art of printmaking by printing materials using the Cherokee syllabary. The 85-character syllabary was developed in 1821 by Sequoyah – a silversmith, blacksmith and artist. The syllabary made it possible to read and write the spoken language of the Cherokee.

Working with translations from WCU’s Cherokee Studies Program, Brannon uses manual printing techniques to preserve the language and its original Cherokee syllables. In a series of public workshops, members of the community will produce prints that will culminate in an edition of handmade books. The workshops will be held at the Southwestern Community College printing studio as well as at Brannon’s studio in Dillsboro.

“Like many languages around the world, the Cherokee spoken language is struggling to continue as there are fewer and fewer speakers,” Brannon said. “As a book artist, I thought about how we might print in Cherokee in this way to support Cherokee language revitalization.” His thesis for his master’s degree was titled “Cherokee Phoenix: Advent of a Newspaper.” The thesis focused on the Cherokee Phoenix, a 19th-century newspaper that was printed in the English and Cherokee languages.

The Mary B. Regan Residency is a one-year community artist grant administered by the N.C. Arts Council and named in honor of a former N.C. Arts Council executive director who dedicated 39 years of service to the arts and artists of North Carolina. The $15,000 grant, supported by donations, will allow Brannon to focus on revitalizing the Cherokee language in partnership with students and the wider community in Swain and Jackson counties.

“When I think of myself as a community artist, I think about the ability of a person to use art to support or transform a community and, combined with visual arts, I expect my artwork to be a catalyst for change using a visual approach,” he said.

The Mary B. Regan Residency Grant will support printing in the Cherokee language. (Image courtesy SpeakEasy News)

The Mary B. Regan Residency Grant will support printing in the Cherokee language. (Image courtesy SpeakEasy News)

Brannon focuses his work on hand papermaking, hand bookbinding and letterpress printing. Working with book artist Steve Miller, Brannon produced the paper for a limited edition print of “Voyage” by Bill Collins, former U.S. poet laureate. He also was commissioned to make 200 copies of “Absalom, Absalom!” celebrating William Faulkner’s birthday. The work featured letterpress printing on handmade cotton rag paper.

Brannon also has explored expanding the concept of the book form to include installations featuring imagery and text on handmade paper filling a gallery space and is experimenting with outdoor installations where the paper will interact with the environment.

Brannon has a master’s degree in fine arts from the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama. His work is in almost 50 library collections and has been in four solo exhibitions and an exhibition that traveled to six venues in the Southeast.

For more information about Brannon, visit The blog,, will feature posts about the project.

Student proposals sought for Discovery Forum by Oct. 10

Western Carolina University will host its third annual Discovery Forum, an event designed to encourage young people to share innovative ideas for making their communities better places to live, on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

A selection committee composed of university faculty and staff has issued a call for proposals from WCU undergraduate students interested in participating in the Discovery Forum. Deadline for submission of proposals is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.

The forum, open to the public, will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus.

During the forum, six undergraduate individuals or teams will “pitch” their projects in front of an audience composed of students, faculty and community members in a series of four-minute presentations followed by four minutes of questions and answers, said Brian Railsback, dean of the Honors College and chair of the selection committee.

“The Discovery Forum fits well with WCU’s emphasis on undergraduate student learning experiences that focus on improving critical skills such as intentional learning, problem solving, teamwork, management, oral and written communication, and leadership,” Railsback said. “The competition invites students to work together to solve real-world problems, which will help them develop and hone the skills they will need when they graduate.”

The top two presenters chosen by a panel of judges at the Discovery Forum will receive an engraved trophy and will be invited to represent WCU at the University of North Carolina Social Entrepreneurship Conference in February 2015.

The WCU event, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Honors College, is part of an initiative launched by the N.C. State University-based Institute for Emerging Issues, a think tank devoted to developing leadership and economic development for the state.

The IEI created the Discovery Forum to promote young leaders and community interaction, and WCU held its inaugural Discovery Forum in April 2013 as a pilot run of the successful Raleigh-based program.

In addition to Railsback, committee members are Todd Collins, College of Arts and Sciences; Tom Ford, College of Education and Allied Professions; Heather Mae Erickson, College of Fine and Performing Arts; Jill Manners, College of Health and Human Sciences; Bob Mulligan, College of Business; Lane Perry, Center for Service Learning; Bill Studenc, Office of Communications and Public Relations; and Martin Tanaka, Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology.

Proposals from students interested in participating must include an abstract of up to 500 words that identifies a problem, a proposed solution, and the viability and sustainability of the proposed solution.

For more information about the forum, including additional requirements for proposals, call the WCU Honors College at 828-227-7383.

Memorial donations for Norma Cook support WCU scholarship

The family of Norma Cook, a former WCU professor of the medical technology program who died Sept. 11, has asked that memorials be made to either Oak Forest Presbyterian Church in Asheville or the Norma Cook Scholarship at the university.

Cook’s obituary can be seen online at the Groce Funeral Home website. Donations can be made to the Norma Cook Scholarship online or by contacting the WCU Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at 800-492-8496 or 828-227-7124. Visit for more information.

WCU volunteers assist with construction and raise nearly $3,000 for prison ‘flip’ project

WCU nursing student Jaclyn McKinley volunteered three days in a row to help transform an old prison in Haywood County into a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and halfway house. McKinley was one of several hundred WCU community members who stepped forward to help launch the new Haywood Pathways Center.

Broadcast students to chronicle WCU marching band appearance in Macy’s Parade

A team of students studying communication at Western Carolina University will be accompanying WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band to New York City for the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but not as merely spectators. Instead, the group will be working to produce broadcast stories that chronicle the band’s trip and performance.

Auditions set for radio production of ‘Robin Hood’

Don Connelly, the show’s producer and writer, said the inspiration for “Robin Hood – The Legacy” came from the early English ballads of the 1200s and 1300s that chronicled the deeds of the kind-hearted outlaw that led to the legend.

WCU physical therapy group assists with NC’s first ‘stroke camp’

Looking back at his experience as a volunteer at the first “stroke camp” held in North Carolina, Western Carolina University physical therapy student Joey Marion wrote about how participating in the summer camp for stroke survivors and their caregivers provided an opportunity to align himself with “some amazing individuals who have persevered through some difficult and life-changing moments.”

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Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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