Archive for September 16th, 2015

WCU distinguished professor, wife become US citizens

Hugh Jack, Western Carolina University’s Cass Ballenger Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and his wife, Alicia, became U.S. citizens during a ceremony held in late August in Charlotte.

Alicia and Hugh Jack

Alicia and Hugh Jack

Jack’s parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland in the 1960s, and he moved from Canada to Michigan in 1996. He came to WCU in July from Grand Valley State University.

The Ballenger Professorship, endowed at $1 million, was established through a gift of $250,000 from former U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-Hickory) supplemented by a grant of $250,000 from the C.D. Spangler Foundation. Ballenger served in the U.S. House from 1986 to 2005. He died last February.

“The United States has a rich history of freedom and opportunity that I deeply appreciate,” Jack said.

Livsey among leaders at ‘All Things Senior’ symposium

Kae Livsey, associate professor of nursing, was one of 200 national leaders in housing, health care and senior services invited to participate in the Future of All Things Senior Leadership Symposium, held Sept. 1-2 in Atlanta.

The leaders gathered to hear the latest information and exchange ideas about the growing challenges in senior services, including the federal government’s decision to eliminate HUD 202 funding to build affordable senior housing just as millions of Baby Boomers who will need the housing become seniors.

National Church Residences, a provider of senior housing, hosted the event, which included presentations from Joe Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, on the demographic challenge ahead, and Stephen M.R. Covey, co-founder and CEO of Coveylink Worldwide, on shared leadership. Working groups were assembled to discuss managed care and population health, affordable senior housing, technology innovations and the integration of health care services into housing.

“The conference included discussions about the need to address changes in health care including population health management, access to health care and how to integrate health care and housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Livsey said. “The issue of affordable housing for seniors, while not on the national agenda now, is likely to become a huge challenge, given economic demographic trends including a doubling of aging individuals over the next 20 years. We need to think about wellbeing, as opposed to just access to health care, to fully address quality of life issues for seniors.”

Hilton awarded $1,500 research grant

A research project proposed by Adriel Hilton, assistant professor and director of the Higher Education Student Affairs Program at WCU, has been selected to receive a research grant award in the amount of $1,500 by the Southern Association for College Student Affairs.

Adriel A. Hilton

Adriel A. Hilton

Hilton’s project is titledWithin the Experiences of African-American Male Doctoral Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

The notice about the grant from Mary Alice Varga, chair of the SACSA research committee, said that “… there were a large number of extraordinary submissions and only one submission was accepted to receive this award.”

Hilton will be interviewing volunteers in individual 90-minute sessions. Plans call for those volunteers to represent five major HBCUs that award doctoral degrees – Howard University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Bowie State University, and Prairie View A&M University. They will be asked about living, learning, working and social environment, as well as culture, values, challenges, and met and unmet needs at their institutions.

“The purpose of the study is to identify past and current experiences that allow African-American men to persist in their pursuit of a doctoral degree at HBCUs,” Hilton said. “This study provides practical implications for the African-American population, which is tied to the mission of Western Carolina University. Young African-American students will be able to learn about individuals who are similar and are making considerable progress in the academy.”

At the completion of his research, Hilton will make a presentation about it at the SACSA 2016 conference or submit a summary article for possible publication in the College Student Affairs Journal.

State Employees Combined Campaign kicks off on campus Sept. 23

It’s that time of year again, when Western Carolina University faculty and staff come together to support the North Carolina State Employees Combined Campaign.


“This is our chance for WCU to give back to the community that supports us,” said Tammy Allman, business officer in the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office and WCU’s SECC chair. “Our campus campaign runs from Wednesday, Sept. 23, through Friday, Nov. 6.”

The SECC has provided more than $99 million in support for worthy causes since it began in 1985, Allman said. The campaign raises funds for federations and independent charities that represent a variety of local, state and national health, education and social service organizations.

The SECC is the only officially sanctioned fund drive conducted on WCU’s campus for outside organizations. “There are more than 1,000 organizations to which you can direct your contributions, so there is likely a cause that is important to you on the list,” Allman said.

“By participating in the State Employees Combined Campaign, WCU faculty and staff nurture our communities, improve lives and strengthen organizations in Jackson County, across Western North Carolina and beyond,” she said. “I hope every employee will consider supporting those organizations and charitable causes that have special importance to them, whether it be human services, the arts, wildlife, education, medical research, the environment, and more. Each donation, no matter the amount, makes a difference in the lives of others.”

Allman said team captains soon will be sharing additional information about how to participate in the campaign. Last year, WCU faculty and staff, retirees and students contributed more than $30,000 to charitable organizations. This year’s goal for WCU employees and retirees is $35,000.

For more information, visit the SECC website at or contact Allman at

— Contributed Information

Amazon Web Services Immersion Day set for Oct. 21-22

Western Carolina University’s Department of Academic Engagement and IT Governance conducted a study of faculty information technology research needs in spring 2014, concluding that faculty need high performance computing for scholarly research.

To help meet that need, WCU’s high performance research computing services will be holding a gathering for faculty and staff to learn about Amazon Web Services, said Marjorie Eyre, academic process and system analyst in Academic Engagement and IT Governance.

Amazon Web Services Immersion Day is set for noon until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22. The Oct. 21 gathering will include lunch, while the Oct. 22 meeting will offer coffee and doughnuts.

Topics to be covered include an introduction to AWS, security, architecture best practices, network and storage, and development on AWS apps.

A web address for registration will be announced soon. For more information, contact Eyre at

‘Rooted in the Mountains’ symposium coming up Sept. 24-25 at WCU

“Plants for Food and Medicine” is the theme for Western Carolina University’s sixth annual symposium, Rooted in the Mountains: Valuing our Common Ground, coming up Thursday, Sept. 24, and Friday, Sept. 25.

The symposium is a collaborative meeting that seeks to integrate indigenous and local knowledge with health and environmental issues. Both Appalachian and Native worldviews are addressed in an attempt to better understand the issues and dynamics of humanity’s place and relationship with the natural world, as well as understand the challenges that arise in an ever-changing world.

RootedMtnsLogoRooted in the Mountains also reflects the importance of language, as it is within language that traditional or indigenous epistemologies are preserved, event organizers said.

Presenters will include community members from Cherokee and the surrounding areas as well as professionals, activists, academics and researchers who work with plants.

“Rooted in the Mountains reminds us of the power of place. We meet our neighbors and strengthen our connections,” said Hartwell Francis, director of WCU’s Cherokee language program. “We tell each other about our experiences in these beautiful mountains and we reaffirm our commitments to study together to better understand ourselves in our environment.”

Cherokee elder Tom Belt and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians cultural resource officer T.J. Holland, a resident of the Snowbird community, will be the Native keynote speakers on day one of the symposium. They will be discussing the Cherokee concept of “Duyuktvi,” the tribe’s philosophy to bring harmony and balance to every aspect of life.

Tom Hatley, formerly Sequoyah Distinguished Professor at WCU, will give the keynote address on day two. Hatley will discuss the human relationship with local forests in his presentation “How the Sequoia Got Its Name: Stories We Tell about Forests (and Ourselves).” In addition to being a nationally recognized historian and Cherokee scholar, Hatley also has trained as a forester and historian at Davidson, Duke and Yale. He has worked for more than 30 years on strategies for collaborative and cross-cultural social investment in agriculture, health and land recovery.

Rooted in the Mountains will be held at WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sept. 24, with a mountain music concert featuring the Haywood Travelers at 6:30 p.m. The symposium will continue on Sept. 25 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Registration is $75 for adults through Friday, Sept. 18, and $125 thereafter. The fee for students is $25, with a limited number of scholarships available.

For more information and to register, visit or call 828-227-7397.

Fall Forum to weigh student learning, engagement on Sept. 21

The Student Learning and Engagement Fall Forum will provide an opportunity for interested parties to examine how those two vital factors combine at Western Carolina University.

The forum will begin at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, in Conference Room A of the Blue Ridge Conference Center.

“The purpose of the forum is to discuss how and what WCU students learn during their college experience, how that learning connects with WCU’s mission as a community engaged university, and how our assessment of student learning informs our teaching and co-curricular practices,” said Carol Burton, associate provost

Discussion will focus on results from faculty engagement surveys, from the National Survey of Student Engagement, from the Collegiate Learning Assessment and summaries from the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee.

Coffee and light refreshments will be served at the forum, hosted by the Office of the Provost, Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, Office of Undergraduate Studies, Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Service Learning.

PSDS to convene climate/energy workshop in Panama

The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at WCU, along with the U.S. Department of Interior and Fundación Natura, will convene the Workshop for Climate Change and Renewable Energy in Protected Areas (Taller Cambio Climatico y Energia Renovable en Areas Protegidas) Sept. 23-25 in Panama City, Panama.

The workshop was funded by a grant to Rob Young, professor of coastal geology and PSDS director, from the DOI’s International Technical Assistance Program.

In addition to the PSDS team, Garrett Fisher, Instructor of Spanish at WCU will travel to Panama to provide translation and Spanish-language note taking.

“Likely attendees will include Jonathan Farrar, U.S. ambassador to Panama; Kristin Sarri, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; Mirei Endara, Panamanian minister of the environment, and many others,” Young said.

“This is the second international workshop under this grant for PSDS this year, following similar work in Jamaica earlier in the spring,” he added.

Workshop to focus on ‘College Students on the Autism Spectrum’

Western Carolina University’s Office of Disability Services will present a Tuesday, Sept. 22, workshop for university faculty that will examine some of the unique challenges students with Autism Spectrum Disorder present in the academic environment.

“College Students on the Autism Spectrum” will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Catamount Room of A.K. Hinds University Center.

More students on the Autism Spectrum are now attending colleges and universities, and the number of students self-identifying themselves with ASD has more than doubled this fall.

The workshop presenter will be Jean Alvarez, assistant director of disability services, who has more than 10 years of experience with the Autism Society of North Carolina.

For more information, contact Wesley Satterwhite, director of the Office of Disability Services and Student Support Services, at 828-227-2716.

By Randall Holcombe

Panel to discuss ‘Constitution in Everyday Life’ on Sept. 17

In honor of Constitution Day on Thursday, Sept. 17, the Public Policy Institute, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, and the Pre-Law Club will host an educational panel at 7 p.m. in the A.K. Hinds University Center Multipurpose Room titled “The Constitution in Everyday Life.”

Panelists include several guests with unique viewpoints about the constitution and local government: Bonnie Claxton, attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina; Paige Dowling, town manager of Sylva; Kim Elliot, Jackson County Schools assistant superintendent; and Roy Wijewickrama, district court judge.

“We have a wonderful mix of guest speakers who will talk about how constitutional issues arise in everyday situations, often in ways we may not even realize,” said Todd Collins, associate professor of political science and director of the Public Policy Institute. “So often, we cover the big topics like Roe v. Wade, or abstract principles like free speech.  My hope is that this panel will focus a bit more on more common, everyday activities where constitutional rights or issues may be involved in ways that we either don’t recognize or take for granted – in common, everyday subjects, like education, housing, or other topics.”

Admission to the panel is free and open to the public. After each panelist speaks for 10 minutes, there will be an opportunity for questions and answers with the audience.

In addition to the panel discussion, Collins said, Pre-Law Club members will be circulating pocket Constitutions to students on the University Center lawn during the day.

Veteran rider looking forward to ‘Biking for Biology’ on Saturday

Darby Harris will be pedaling his bicycle for at least 100 miles this coming Saturday, Sept. 19. But will it turn out to be 125 miles, or maybe 150, or even 200 miles? It all depends on the donations.

WCU community chooses ‘Courses to Careers’ as QEP topic

The votes are in, and the Western Carolina University community has spoken. “Courses to Careers” will be the topic of focus for the university’s next Quality Enhancement Plan.

Scott named to posts for Local Government Training Program, Public Policy Institute

Rebecca Scott, a community planner with regional knowledge and experience, is the new director of the Western Carolina University’s Local Government Training Program. She will also serve as assistant director of WCU’s Public Policy Institute.

Campus conversation series to get underway Sept. 21-24

A series of campus conversations centered on four topics identified by Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher as areas of emphasis for the 2015-16 academic year will get underway Monday through Thursday, Sept. 21-24.

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


Africa! More Than A Continent