Jeremy B. Jones, assistant professor of English at Western Carolina University and author of “Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland,” has won a gold medal for his work in the autobiography/memoir classification of the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards.
“Bearwallow” recounts Jones’ return with his wife to the Southern Appalachian homeland settled by his ancestors about 200 years ago, where he took a job as a teacher alongside his own childhood teachers and experienced an ongoing connection with the mountain for which the memoir is named.
“Region can shape people in a specific way,” Jones said in a December interview with Bethany Chafin of public radio station WFDD in the Piedmont. “The book asks, overtly in the early part, ‘What does it mean to be mountain people and how are we shaped?’ It’s not artifice for the book; I genuinely was asking that question.”
The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first awards program open exclusively to independents, over 3,000 recognitions have been awarded to authors and publishers around the world.
For more information about the competition and the complete list of this year’s winners, see the organization’s web page at independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1936.
By Keith Brenton
Chancellor David Belcher will speak at the commencement exercises for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville, Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m.
The title of his presentation is “Point of Departure.”
For more information about the event, see the A-B Tech web page https://www.abtech.edu/graduation.
Because of donations through payroll deductions and fundraisers benefiting the Western Carolina University Staff Senate Scholarship Fund this year, the Staff Senate was able to award three scholarships.
Students who are children and relatives of SPA and EPA non-faculty employees, and who will be attending WCU, are eligible to apply for the Staff Senate Scholarship. This year’s awardees, all sophomores receiving $1,000 each, are:
The University Club recently sponsored a fundraiser for the scholarship fund and raised more than $1,500.
Staff Senate is an elected body that represents WCU’s permanent, non-faculty employees and seeks to improve the quality of life at the university.
UClub hosts its TGIF events at the Moore Building on Fridays from 5-7 p.m. (including the summer). There is an online form to join at http://www.wcu.edu/faculty-staff/uclub-the-university-club/join-the-uclub.asp.
Western Carolina University saved more than 19,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity during the three-week 2015 Battle of the Plug energy conservation competition with four other colleges and universities in the region.
The 4.8 percent reduction in energy usage – equivalent to about $2,000 in savings – gave WCU a second place finish. Elizabeth City State University was first with a 6.9 percent drop during the fourth annual competition.
In the WCU intramural campus competition, Robertson Residence Hall emerged as WCU’s 2015 Battle of the Plug Energy victor with a 35.7 percent reduction in energy usage.
“Robertson won the competition on campus with the greatest reduction and they will receive a prize for the building,” said Lauren Bishop, chief sustainability officer at WCU.
Reynolds Hall, last year’s champion, was second with a 31.6 percent decrease. Buchanan Hall placed third with a 21.4 percent drop.
In the contest between campuses, Meredith College was third with a 4.2 percent reduction, and the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s 1.9 percent decrease earned it fourth place.
Last year’s winner, Appalachian State University, actually increased its energy usage 1.8 percent during the April 2-22 competition this year, and came in fifth.
Students from WCU made 428 specific commitments to reduce energy usage, such as setting computer power-saving modes, air drying laundry, taking stairs rather than elevators and turning off unused public lights at night.
More results of the local and global competitions are posted online at buildingdashboard.net/wcu/#/wcu/.
By Keith Brenton
For the second year in a row, Western Carolina University has been chosen through an online poll as the No. 1 college for outdoor adventure in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic by a leading outdoors magazine.
WCU captured the title of “top adventure college” over the second-place school, Montreat College, following several rounds of voting in which the university also came out on top against Virginia Tech, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Appalachian State. Representatives of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine announced the results of the competition Monday, May 4, and promised a more complete survey of regional outdoor education offerings in the publication’s August issue.
In an online article about the poll results, magazine staff member Travis Hall interviewed Josh Whitmore of Base Camp Cullowhee, WCU’s outdoor programming organization, and quoted him as saying, “We have a staff of three full-time employees and about 25 students who help us achieve our goals. We organize trips and events in places like Colorado and Utah, but we focus heavily on our own backyard.”
That “backyard,” the article said, consists of public lands like Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, which “afford WCU students quick and easy access to some of the best landscapes the Southern Appalachians have to offer. But what really sets it apart from similar mountain schools are WCU’s outdoor resources, experience, and leadership.”
Whitmore, who oversees Base Camp Cullowhee operations, also spoke of many land-, air- and water-based activities available in the university’s area, and of his program’s growth in the adventure-rich environment. “Over the years Base Camp Cullowhee has evolved from a small outdoor program within the recreation department to its own entity with over 9,000 participant experiences per year. In 2008 we completed a 2,100-square-foot indoor rock climbing facility, and just a couple years ago we added a 7-mile multi-use trail system,” Whitmore said. “Our staff does a lot of great work, but the students are the ones that really run the show here.”
The magazine also interviewed Mitch Bearden, a WCU student and guide for Base Camp Cullowhee who also is an outdoor and whitewater enthusiast. A video recording of his group’s kayak runs in the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia is linked to the article.
In addition to Base Camp Cullowhee, WCU offers numerous academic programs for students interested in careers in the outdoors, including parks and recreation management, forest resources, hospitality and tourism and natural resource conservation and management.
Blue Ridge Outdoors’ coverage of the “top adventure college” competition is available online at http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/go-outside/western-carolina-university-wins-top-adventure-college-honors/.
For more information about last year’s win, see http://magazine.wcu.edu/2015/02/an-outside-influence/.
By Keith Brenton
Jessica Sims, a graduate student at Western Carolina University, has been selected by the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation to participate in a minority fellowship program for addictions counselors.Sims, of Prospect Park, New Jersey, will receive $11,000 in funding and training to support her education and facilitate her addictions counseling service to underserved minority transition-age youth (ages 16 to 25).
A May graduate earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from WCU, Sims also is a graduate of Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. She taught first-year undergraduate counseling students at WCU in fall 2013 and fall 2014. Lisen Roberts, director for the clinical mental health counseling and school counseling program at WCU, said Sims’ graduate assistantship included working for WCU’s Office of Intercultural Affairs. Sims has spent 2014-2015 interning at Jackson County Psychological Services in Sylva.
“This national award is a reflection of Jessica’s commitment to the profession,” Roberts said. “As a counselor-in-training, she proved herself early on and consistently to have high-quality counseling skills and dedication to serving the mental health needs of the region.”
Sims said she was thrilled when she learned that she had received the fellowship. “Words cannot adequately explain what an honor this opportunity is,” she said. “This fellowship exemplifies my goals of serving underserved populations and working toward bridging the gap in mental health disparities.”
Specifically, Sims is interested in working with children and families with a specialty in addictions. She said she believes that this fellowship has brought her closer to achieving her goal and she vows to work hard to bridge the gap in mental health disparities.
For more information about the master’s level program in clinical mental health counseling at WCU, visit the website counseling.wcu.edu.
The fellowship program is made possible by a grant awarded to NBCC by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in September 2014. The foundation is contracted by NBCC to administer the program, as well as other training and collaboration activities that are open to all national certified counselors. The goal of the program is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health care outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the available number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals.
The foundation plans to open the next NBCC MFP-AC application period in September 2015. To learn more about the NBCC MFP and its fellows, visit www.nbccf.org.
By Keith Brenton
Western Carolina University’s Parks and Recreation Management Program hosted its inaugural Catamount Community Dance recently in Reid Gymnasium to raise funds for the program’s new student scholarship fund.
The Department of Residential Living is getting out of the business of providing short-term housing opportunities to Western Carolina University faculty and staff as a 35-unit apartment complex in operation since the 1960s closes later this year.
Western Carolina University is one step closer to identifying the focus of its 10-year Quality Enhancement Plan, which is an integral part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges reaccreditation review planned for 2017.
For the first time, the interdisciplinary learning theme for Western Carolina University will be in place for two academic years beginning next fall.