Archive for February 18th, 2015

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.

History faculty members oversee project for Trail of Tears Association

WCU history department faculty Sue Abram and Andrew Denson are overseeing a public history project that recently received a development grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.

Hunter Library to host Feb. 25 reception for Faculty Scholarship Celebration

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, Feb. 25, at Hunter Library.

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