Archive for February, 2015

Band works out of Asheville with ‘hippie mellow’ sound

Beth Huber, WCU assistant professor of English, thought “I’m done with that” when she retired early from a career in music to earn her doctorate.

Robinson earns ProChef 2 certification

John Robinson, catering chef with Aramark, WCU’s food service partner, has earned ProChef 2 certification from The Culinary Institute of America, a culinary college with campuses in New York, California and Texas.

Robinson’s completion of ProChef 2 is the culmination of a 10-week program that requires completion of online course work and multiple hours in the kitchen practicing and advancing his skills, leading to a four-day practical and written exam judged by certified master chefs at the institute’s San Antonio, Texas, campus.

Rob Young to join panel discussing coastal recovery

Rob Young, professor of geology and director of WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, will be part of a panel presenting the topic “Coastal Resilience: Weathering the Coming Storm” at the University of California Santa Cruz on Saturday, March 14.

Panel of WCU alumni/doctoral candidates to meet with current students

Four doctoral degree candidates from three different universities – all of whom are WCU alumni – will form a panel to discuss the process of applying for a doctoral program at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Catamount Room of the A.K. Hinds University Center.

The panelists and their areas of study are Mary Beth Fallin Hunzaker, sociology, Duke University; Luke Manget, history, University of Georgia; James Owen, history, University of Georgia; and Clyde Ray, political science, UNC-Chapel Hill.

A team of faculty – Christopher Cooper, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs; Kathleen Brennan, associate professor and head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology; and Gael Graham, professor and head of the Department of History – got together to organize the event to reach out to students considering the pursuit of an advanced degree.

“The idea is for our students to see and hear someone who has been in their shoes and to realize that this path is possible – as well as learn a few helpful tips,” Cooper said. “These are WCU graduates who are currently enrolled in top-ranked Ph.D. programs.”

He added that the discussion will not be exclusively about the panelist’s disciplines. “We would love to see students attend from multiple disciplines,” Cooper said. “Although there are some things that are specific to our disciplines, we believe that students from across WCU who are considering pursuing a Ph.D. could benefit from attending the panel.”

Brennan emphasized that students interested in pursuing a master’s degree should attend, as well. “Even though the panelists will be focusing on Ph.D. programs, some completed separate master’s programs and could talk about the similarities and differences in applying for and completing those types of programs if attendees ask about it,” she said.

For more information about the panel discussion, contact Cooper at (828) 227-3861 or; or Brennan at (828) 227-3835 or

WCU has $511 million impact on WNC economy, statewide study of education says

Western Carolina University was responsible for injecting an estimated $511.3 million into the Western North Carolina economy during the 2012-13 fiscal year through the combined impact of payroll, operational, construction and research expenditures by the university and the spending habits of its students, visitors and alumni.

Faculty Scholarship Celebration rescheduled to March 4

Recent scholarly and creative accomplishments of WCU faculty and staff members will be showcased during the 2015 Faculty Scholarship Celebration that begins with a reception from 4 until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the lobby of Java City at Hunter Library. The event was rescheduled from Feb. 25 due to predictions of inclement weather.

The winners of five Faculty Research and Creative Activities awards and the 2015 Hunter Scholar honoree will be announced at the reception, which will be held on the main floor in the lounge area next to Java City. Speakers will include Channa De Silva, assistant professor of chemistry and winner of the 2014 Hunter Scholar award for his nanotechnology research.

The annual celebration recognizes the accomplishments of staff and faculty members outside the classroom and office and offers an opportunity for students, the university community and the public to learn about those activities.

The celebration is sponsored by the Graduate School and Research, Hunter Library, Coulter Faculty Commons, the Provost’s Office for Undergraduate Studies and the Honors College.

WCU’s Pi Month to involve pi fans, pie pans

Math enthusiasts on Western Carolina University’s campus will get a chance to show their love for pi during a monthlong celebration being held to honor the famous ratio 3.1415 that has fascinated the great minds of the world for thousands of years.

Hunter Library, WaLC to host ‘Long Night Against Procrastination’

Western Carolina University’s first Long Night Against Procrastination will take place Tuesday, March 3, and Wednesday, March 4, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Hunter Library.

According to Elizabeth Marcus, undergraduate experience librarian, the evening of academic assistance and concentration is an international event that began in Germany and is gaining popularity in the United States and Canada.

“Students will have the opportunity to focus on specific projects in a safe and supportive space, improving time management skills, reducing stress and enhancing academic performance,” Marcus said.

Reference librarians and tutors from the Writing and Learning Commons will be available during the event to provide after-hours writing and research assistance to students. Work break activities will include snacks, 10-minute Zumba, and a visit from two therapy dogs.

Participants may register for the event on March 3 at 8 p.m. near the library’s circulation desk.
For more information, contact Marcus at 828-227-3398 or by email at

Emergency service, police departments sponsor public safety, preparedness sessions

Western Carolina University’s Emergency Services Department and Police Department are hosting “Whee Safe,” a series of brown bag discussions throughout the 2015 spring semester designed to provide faculty, staff and students with information on a variety of personal and community public safety topics.

“We are very excited at this opportunity for members of our public safety team to discuss some very important topics with members of the campus community,” Police Chief Ernie Hudson said. “One of the keys to ensuring that we have a safe campus environment is to provide faculty, staff and students with information on how to prepare for emergency situations and steps they can take to take to help prevent crime and accidents.”

Sessions are held at noon in the multipurpose room of A.K. Hinds University Center, and participants are encouraged to bring their lunches.

The next offering in the series is on the topic “Bystander and Primary Prevention.” In the session, WCU Clery Coordinator Bruce Barker will discuss the issue of sexual assault prevention. Baker will cover topics including safe and positive options to prevent harm, and intervention and strategies intended to stop dating violence, domestic violence and sexual assault. The session was originally scheduled for Feb. 24 but was postponed because of inclement weather and is now set for Thursday, March 5.

Upcoming Whee Safe brown bag events are:

  • “Severe Weather” – Tammi Hudson, campus emergency manager, will discuss winter weather, the difference between watches and warnings, the meaning of “shelter in place,” the use of social media during weather emergencies, and campus protocol for alerts, notifications and evacuations. Tuesday, March 24.
  • “Your Police Department” – Assistant Police Chief Steve Lillard will give an introduction to the campus police department, the services it offers and how the department can be a resource to members of the campus community. Tuesday, April 7.
  • “Planning Special Events with Public Safety in Mind” – Tammi Hudson and Ernie Hudson will discuss the importance of advance planning to the success of a special event on campus. Tuesday, May 12.

The series began Feb. 2 with a session on “Personal Preparedness and Safety.”

For more information about the Whee Safe brown bag series or other emergency preparedness initiatives at WCU, visit the website or call 828-227-7301.

By Bill Studenc

Hilton honored by National Association of Student Affairs Professionals

Adriel A. Hilton, assistant professor and director of Western Carolina University’s College Student Personnel Program, received the highest honor bestowed by the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals on one of its members as the organization held its annual conference in Huntsville, Alabama.

New outdoor adventure speaker series to feature presentation by American Whitewater’s Mark Singleton

Base Camp Cullowhee, Western Carolina University’s outdoor programming organization, will launch a speaker series focused on outdoor adventure with a Tuesday, March 3, presentation featuring Mark Singleton, executive director of American Whitewater.

Causby appointed associate vice chancellor for human resources

A two-time Western Carolina University alumnus was recently announced as the university’s new associate vice chancellor for human resources.

Gerlach appointed director of public affairs program

John “Jay” Gerlach has been named director of Western Carolina University’s master of public affairs degree program, effective July 1.

Jay Gerlach

Jay Gerlach

Gerlach takes the reins from Roger Hartley, who has been named dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.

Christopher Cooper, head of the political science and public affairs department, made the announcement recently to faculty and students. “When we hired him (Gerlach) away from Texas Tech, we expected to get a superior teacher, researcher, and university citizen but he’s exceeded our expectations in all three of these areas,” Cooper said. “He is uniquely committed to MPA education and has all of the makings of an excellent program director.”

WCU’s MPA program prepares town managers, directors of nonprofit organizations, professors, police officers and other professionals committed to public service. Many courses can be taken during evening hours at the Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville; some are offered at the Cullowhee campus and online.

For more information about the program or its new director, see or contact Gerlach at

Global Spotlight Series examines climate change on March 2

The Global Spotlight Series sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Department of Political Science and Public Affairs continues this semester with a Monday, March 2, panel featuring four presentations about climate change.

Blair Tormey, coastal research scientist, will discuss “Climate Science and the Evidence for Global Warming.”

Rob Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, will speak about “Talking to Mr. Carl About Climate Change.”

David Dorondo, Sossoman Professor of History, will examine “European Climate-Change Policy: A Question of German Leadership?”

The topic of Jen Schiff, political science and public affairs assistant professor, will be “United Nations Action (or Inaction?) on Climate Change.”

The next discussion in the series on Monday, April 13, will focus on the status of Israel-Palestine.

The March 2 event will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 130 of the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. For more information, contact Niall Michelsen at 828-227-3336.

CAPS offers training in recognizing student distress

Because news of student deaths in the region and state have featured prominently in local and national media recently, the Division of Student Affairs’ office of Counseling and Psychological Services is reaching out to increase awareness of resources available on campus for people experiencing distress.

Betsy Aspinwall, psychologist with CAPS, emphasizes that early detection of distress and connection to resources can be crucial for someone experiencing emotional distress.

“In many instances, faculty and staff will be the first to recognize a student experiencing difficulty and have the opportunity to reach out to the student,” she said. “If you find yourself in this situation, take the time to show you care by starting a conversation with the student and voicing specific concerns. Let the student know that help is available and no one has to be alone. Share information with the student about connecting with CAPS.”

Counseling and Psychological Services offers training to faculty, staff and students on recognizing someone in distress and how to approach the situation. For additional information or to schedule training, contact Aspinwall by phone at 828-227-7469 or email her at and ask about the CATS Care Suicide Awareness Program.

Anantatmula helps create project management curriculum

The Project Management Institute’s academic resources department recently collaborated with faculty around the globe, including Vittal Anantatmula, professor and director of the master’s degree program in project management, to develop project management curriculum guidelines along with a foundational course and supplementary teaching materials for universities.

Chancellor to meet with Cherokee residents Feb. 23

Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher will meet with residents of the Cherokee community Monday, Feb. 23, as part of a series of events designed to keep the university connected with alumni, friends and elected officials.

The visits, which include stops across North Carolina and the Southeast, are a part of an ongoing series of follow-ups to the 2011 “Get Acquainted Tour,” which took Belcher and his wife, Susan, to some 15 municipalities over four months during his first year as chancellor.

“When we visited communities across the region and state to introduce our new chancellor, one thing we heard over and over again was that we should make visits to those communities a regular occurrence,” said Marty Ramsey, director of alumni affairs at WCU. “Friends and alumni asked us to return frequently to their communities and update them about what is going on at the university, and that is what we are doing.”

The Feb. 23 visit will include a reception for alumni and friends from Cherokee and surrounding areas. The event will be held from 6 until 7:30 p.m. in the Maple Room of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, which is sponsoring the reception.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Beau Busby in the Office of Alumni Affairs toll-free at 877-440-9990 or via email at RSVP deadline is Friday, Feb. 20.

WCU’s Lane Perry receives Civic Engagement Professional of the Year award

Lane Perry, director of Western Carolina University’s Center for Service Learning, has been named the 2015 Civic Engagement “Emerging Leader” Professional of the Year by North Carolina Campus Compact.

Honors College dean stepping down at end of academic year

Brian Railsback, the founding dean of the Western Carolina University Honors College, will be stepping down from the post at the end of the academic year to resume teaching, writing and researching as a faculty member in the Department of English.

WCU’s Stanislavskaya receives unique musical theater award

Katya Stanislavskaya heeded the venerable advice to “write what you know,” and the musical she wrote and composed, “Resident Alien,” has won the ninth annual New Musical Award from the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vermont.

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Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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