Archive for December, 2015

New website design roll-out to begin

A comprehensive redesign of the Western Carolina University website is expected to begin unfolding on Thursday morning (Dec. 10), offering a number of new features, including clearer navigation and more storytelling.

WCU gets high marks in National Survey of Student Engagement

Results from the 2015 National Survey of Student Engagement indicate that Western Carolina University consistently outperforms similar higher education institutions in a variety of factors related to undergraduate student learning.

Students discover previous generations with new course on genealogy

A first-time course in genealogy offered by Western Carolina University’s Department of History this semester as part of the public history certificate program proved popular, insightful and revealing, students said.

WCU version of ‘Giving Tuesday’ exceeds expectations, with contributions doubled

Western Carolina University’s second annual efforts for “Giving Tuesday,” the designation for a national day of charitable and philanthropic contributions, exceeded expectations.

WCU Programs at Biltmore Park to hold Dec. 15 Open House

Prospective students will have an opportunity to find out about the wide variety of graduate and professional programs offered by Western Carolina University during an Open House set for Tuesday, Dec. 15, at WCU’s instructional site in Asheville.

The event will be held at WCU’s location in Suite 100 at 28 Schenck Parkway (beside P.F. Chang’s) in Biltmore Park Town Square. The Open House will be a drop-in, and interested individuals can come by anytime between 5 and 7 p.m. to enjoy refreshments and talk to WCU faculty and staff.

WCU’s offerings taught either partly or entirely in Asheville include doctoral programs in educational leadership and nursing practice; master’s programs in accountancy, business administration, counseling, English, health sciences, nursing, public affairs, social work and technology; bachelor’s programs in mechanical engineering and nursing; and several certificate programs such as professional and technical writing, and family nurse practitioner.

For more information, call 828-654-6498 or email

By Randall Holcombe

Community Chorus to perform seasonal favorites on Dec. 13

The Western Carolina University School of Music will present a concert by the Western Carolina Community Chorus on Sunday, Dec. 13, at First Baptist Church, Sylva.

The free concert begins at 4 p.m. and will feature performances by the oldest, continuously active community chorus in the region, formed in 1970 and composed of singers from the westernmost counties of the state. The chorus is directed by Robert Holquist, WCU professor emeritus of music.

A  WCU faculty and student brass quintet will accompany four selections, including “Service to God,” written in 2003 by Holquist for the observance of the 20th anniversary of his service as minister of music at Sylva First Baptist Church. Mindy Cook will be a featured soloist in that selection. Two WCU student percussionists will assist the choir on Paul Basler’s “Gloria,” featuring Yona Wade as tenor soloist. All will be invited to sing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “The First Noel” to close the concert with brass, piano and organ accompaniment.

Support of the Community Chorus comes from the WCU School of Music, Jackson County Arts Council, North Carolina Arts Council and private contributions and donations. For more information, contact WCU’s School of Music at 828-227-7242.

By Geoff Cantrell

Book by WCU’s Sachs probes Kentucky frontier myths, reality

Honor Sachs, assistant professor of history at Western Carolina University, examines frontier myths and realities in her new book “Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier.”


Published by Yale University Press and released in October, the book incorporates the stories of women, slaves, orphans and the poor into a history often dominated by male pioneers. Alden Ferro, Yale University Pres publicist, said the historic reality that she documents is of a time and region fraught with political instability, social unrest and economic uncertainty, even as popular culture celebrates brave pioneers like Daniel Boone to this day. Sachs complicates the stories of such popular frontier heroes and explains how western leaders secured the frontier by incorporating ordinary white men into a political culture that celebrated household order and patriarchal authority, he said.

“Home Rule” has been described as an engaging read that explores early American history, gender and societal roles, political science and concepts of citizenship for a not-so-typical take on Southern Appalachian history. Sachs said she argues that ideas about family and household structure helped rebuild and rehabilitate public and private authority in the post-Revolutionary War west.

Honor Sachs

Honor Sachs

Sachs holds a doctorate in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been part of the faculty at WCU for three years. She teaches courses on early U.S. history, the American Revolution, slavery and law, and contributes to WCU’s certificate program in public history. She has held fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Filson Historical Society, and was Cassius Marcellus Clay postdoctoral fellow at Yale University.

Pam Tillis to perform at WCU on Sunday, Jan. 24

Country music star Pam Tillis will replace Juice Newton as the featured performer at a Galaxy of Stars Series performance at Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24.

Pam Tillis

Pam Tillis

Tillis has been a force in country music since her first single recording hit the charts and has racked up 14 top five hits including six songs that hit No. 1, and has sold more than 6 million records. She was one of the first women in Nashville to produce her own album, and was awarded the coveted Female Vocalist of the Year award by the Country Music Association in 1994.

In 1999, Tillis became the first female country entertainer to ever star in a Broadway musical when she appeared in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. She also has performed on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and “Late Night” with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. Her acting credits include appearances on television series “Promised Land,” “Diagnosis: Murder” and “L.A. Law.”

Tillis is the daughter of country music singer Mel Tillis and Doris Tillis.

Newton, originally scheduled to perform, recently announced her retirement and had to cancel the engagement.

Tickets for the performance are available at or by calling the box office at 828-227-2479.

Changes coming for metered Coulter parking lot

The rate charged for parking in WCU’s short-term metered Coulter lot will be reduced and the hours of metered parking will be extended as of Monday, Jan. 4, said Fred Bauknecht, the university’s director of parking and transportation.

Rates will be lowered from $3 per hour to $1 for 30 minutes and the lot will be monitored for metered parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, instead of the current 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bauknecht said.

One of the goals set by WCU’s parking operations office in 2014 was to create a designated parking lot for visitors and short-term parking, and the Coulter lot (No. 33) was the logical choice to establish the university’s first short-term metered parking lot, he said. Usage of the 84 spaces in the lot has increased from last year, with 2,077 meter transactions in September of this year, compared to 1,322 transactions in September 2014, Bauknecht said.

“We anticipate continued growth with the additions of the new mixed-use complex and the Brown cafeteria expansion,” he said. “It has been the hope that revenues generated from this metered lot could potentially offset some of the anticipated increases in parking permit fees.”

For more information, contact Bauknecht at

By Randall Holcombe

Electric Department achieves ‘No Lost Workdays’ recognition

The Electric Department of the Office of Facilities Management at WCU received a plaque on Nov. 19 in recognition of having no lost workdays due to accidents in 2014 from ElectriCities of North Carolina Inc.

“That makes eight years in a row,” said Rosie Greenwood, administrative support specialist for Facilities Management.

ElectriCities is a membership organization providing customer service and safety training, emergency and technical assistance, communications, government affairs and legal services within public power communities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. It also provides management services to two municipal power agencies in North Carolina.

Electric Department employees (left to right) John Freeman, Jeff Gunter, Randy Fox, Travis Taylor, Brandon Green, Andy Edwards and (front) Keith Dills display their award.

Electric Department employees (left to right) John Freeman, Jeff Gunter, Randy Fox, Travis Taylor, Brandon Green, Andy Edwards and (front) Keith Dills display their award.

McGhan play in New York garnering glowing reviews

“In the Soundless Awe,” a play co-written by Jayme McGhan, director of the School of Stage and Screen, is playing off-Broadway and has found favor with the city’s critics.

NY Theatre Guide has it listed as the #1 show to see, McGhan said.

The review can be read online at It is also reviewed favorably at the site OffOffOnline:

The play’s engagement at Access Theater continues through Saturday, Dec. 12. A short promotional clip for the performance can be viewed at

“In the Soundless Awe” was first produced at Concordia University Chicago in 2012.

Chemistry students, faculty share research

Students, former students and faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Physics presented their research at the 2015 Combined Southwest Region Meeting and the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Memphis, Tennessee, Nov. 4-7.

Channa De Silva and Jamie Wallen, assistant professors of chemistry, presented their work, along with graduate and undergraduate students who had conducted research under the faculty supervision of De Silva, Wallen, Scott Huffman (associate professor of analytical chemistry), Arthur Salido (associate professor of analytical chemistry), Brian Dinkelmeyer (associate professor of organic chemistry), Maria Gainey (lecturer in biology) and Bill Kwochka (associate professor of organic chemistry; associate department head).

Current WCU students presenting and/or contributing to research shared at SERMACS-SWRM included Alexander Lillie, Christian Jensen, Seth Sedberry, Nicole Dragan, Joey Lee, Laney Browder, Craig Crowley, Aric Butler, Alma Plaza-Rodriguez, Brittni Foster, Jenny Collins and Maggie Carver.

WCU, Malaysian collaborators’ research published

The work of several researchers from opposite sides of the globe, including a team from Western Carolina University, was published in the November edition of Iranian Polymer Journal.

Co-authors in the paper from WCU are Channa DeSilva, assistant professor of bioinorganic chemistry; Indrani Bose, associate professor of biology; and Nalin Darsanasiri, who graduated with his master’s in chemistry.

“The research project is a collaboration between my research group at WCU and professor Hanafi Ismail’s research group at the School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia in Malaysia,” DeSilva said.

Ismail, a professor in the school of materials and mineral resources engineering, worked with graduate student Indrajith Rathnayake there.

“In this work, we studied the incorporation of silver-doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles into natural rubber latex materials and evaluated their physical and antimicrobial properties,” DeSilva added.

The title of the article is “Antibacterial effect of Ag-doped TiO2nanoparticles incorporated natural rubber latex foam under visible light conditions.” 

The article can be viewed online at

Professor presents research in Havana

Santiago Garcia-Castanon, professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages, presented the paper “La presencia de vocablos foráneos en el ingles de los Estados Unidos” (“The Presence of Foreign Language Borrowings in American English”) at the International Conference on Linguistics in Havana, Cuba, on Nov. 25-27.

Collins named nursing leadership fellow

Shawn Collins, associate professor of nursing and director of WCU’s nurse anesthesia program, was recently named a North Carolina Nursing Association Leadership Fellow for 2016.

Collins will be participating in the NCNA Leadership Academy training events throughout 2016. The academy prepares fellows to take on new opportunities and influence change in nursing, their current place of employment and the health-care industry.

Fifteen days in Kenya: Drinking up the lessons of life

Ali Bovender says she expected that a recent journey to Kenya with six of her fellow Western Carolina University teacher education students would turn out to be a life-changing experience, but she had no idea that it would affect her like it has.

School of Nursing students donate two WHEE Wagons to Harris Regional Hospital

Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing established the WHEE Wagon Program last spring to provide medically fragile children wagons with IV poles so they can play and just be a kid.

Fall commencement set for Dec. 12 at Ramsey Center

Western Carolina University has scheduled commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 12, to recognize its fall graduating class and a group of new WCU alumni who were awarded degrees after this year’s summer school sessions.

Radio re-creation group to present ‘Blackbeard’s Ghost’ in March

The award-winning creative team from Western Carolina University that already has destroyed the world with its presentation of “War of the Worlds” and paid homage to the early broadcasts of the Cotton Club with its “golden age of radio” re-creations has announced its selection for spring 2016.

Faculty member receives award for contributions to student personnel work

Adriel Hilton, assistant professor and director of Western Carolina University’s Higher Education Student Affairs Program, received an award for his career work from the Southern Association for College Student Affairs at its conference Monday, Nov. 2, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


Africa! More Than A Continent