Archive for December 2nd, 2015

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.

Philosophy and religion faculty members mourn passing of Mike Jones

Faculty members in WCU’s Department of Philosophy and Religion are mourning the recent passing of Michael Paul Jones, who formerly served as chair of the university’s philosophy and religion program for 17 years.

Jones also was the driving force behind the development of a philosophy major at WCU in 1990, said James M. McLachlan, current professor in the department.

Jones joined the WCU faculty around 1973 after holding temporary positions at the University of Northern Arizona and University of South Carolina, McLachlan said. “Mike Jones was the first philosopher at Western Carolina University and built the program,” McLachlan said. “At that time, there was no department, but an ‘associated area’ of philosophy and religion.”

In addition to his influence in the academic area of philosophy and religion, Jones was the first director of WCU’s honors program years before the program was elevated to “college” status, said Brian Railsback, WCU professor of English and former dean of the Honors College. “Really, Mike was instrumental in bringing the whole concept of ‘honors’ to WCU,” Railsback said.

Raised in Indiana, Jones studied engineering at Purdue University and worked as an engineer in the defense industry in Los Angeles for a time, McLachlan said. “Eventually, he decided this was not how he wanted to spend the rest of his life, and after a stint studying philosophy at Wabash College, he entered the doctoral program in philosophy at the University of Texas,” McLachlan said.

“I will always remember Mike when he returned from a particularly frustrating meeting,” he said. “The top of his head was red and his eyes bulged as he would relate the whole thing to (wife) Carrie and me. I always remember his ironic smile given with a sideways glance and a laugh. I miss him.”

Jones was laid to rest beside his wife in Fairview Memorial Cemetery in Sylva.

– Contributed information

Contemporary, romantic works to be featured in Dec. 3 faculty recital at WCU

Western Carolina University’s School of Music will present a recital of contemporary and romantic works featuring faculty members on Thursday, Dec. 3.

The 7:30 p.m. performance will be held in the recital hall of the Coulter Building on the WCU campus. It is free and open to the public. Featured performers are Zsolt Szabo on trombone, Ian Jeffress on saxophone, and accompanying on piano, Lillian Pearson and Lyn Burkett.

Szabo will be performing selections from a new arrangement for trombone and piano of Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, two movements from “Four Serious Songs” by Johannes Brahms, and Lawrence Borden’s “Conditions of a Solitary Bird.”

Jeffress will give a premiere performance of two new works written for him, “Nanomusic III” by Bryan Burkett, a composer living in Cullowhee, and “News Flash” by Andrew Hannon, a faculty composer at Appalachian State University.

In addition to works for solo trombone and saxophone, Szabo, Jeffress and Pearson will perform a trio work of “Gnomology” by Carl Schimmel, consisting of miniature movements inspired by quotations from historical figures ranging from Hesiod to James Joyce. Jeffress and Lyn Burkett also will perform Baljinder Sekhon’s “Gradient,” a work for saxophone and piano.

For more information, contact the School of Music at 828-227-7242.

By Geoff Cantrell

Faughn, students study classrooms in France during fall break

Axelle Faughn, associate professor of mathematics, and four teacher education students observed classrooms in France during Western Carolina University’s fall break Oct. 10-17.

Heather Ervin, Cecilia Anderson, Kate Short and Ginny Simpson (left to right) made a stop near the banks of the Seine River to have a photo taken with the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris as a backdrop.

Heather Ervin, Cecilia Anderson, Kate Short and Ginny Simpson (left to right) made a stop near the banks of the Seine River to have a photo taken with the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris as a backdrop.

Students Heather Ervin, Cecilia Anderson, Kate Short and Ginny Simpson accompanied Faughn on the trip.

“The idea was for education students to go for 10 days and to observe classrooms in France,” Faughn said. “They went to a French high school in my hometown in Brittany, and spent five of those days there. The classes included some international students, so they observed classes in English as well as French language.”

While there, the students stayed in homes. “They got to see pedagogy in a French school hosted by French teachers during the week, and to become immersed in French family life, getting the real cultural side of life there, as well as the educational side,” Faughn said. “It was good for them to have that experience.”

The students had an opportunity to compare differences between the educational system in a foreign country and those at home.

“Among the things they found different was that the school day went from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Faughn said. “It was much longer, though they have breaks for lunch, and sometimes break periods with no classes. For the teachers, that’s a very long day.

“The classes were much more structured; the level of subject matter a little higher than in United States classrooms,” she added. “And the food was very good in the school cafeteria. They were impressed with that.”

In addition to observing the high school classes, the group visited standing stones and medieval walled cities. “We went to Paris and did all the touristy things you’d think about doing there,” Faughn said. (The group’s visit was prior to the terrorist attacks in Paris in November.)

She was pleased that the trip went well for the students.

“I am hoping we can do this again next year, and that other faculty members can do this sort of study, too,” Faughn said.

By Keith Brenton

Auditions set for WCU’s radio re-creation of ‘Blackbeard’s Ghost’

Auditions will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, for the upcoming radio re-creation of “Blackbeard’s Ghost and the Queen Ann’s Revenge” at Western Carolina University.

The auditions will be held in Breese Gymnasium on the WCU campus.

“Blackbeard’s Ghost” will be the eighth in a series of academic-based entertainment productions mounted in collaboration with three departments and two colleges at WCU. The 2016 production is being led by director Peter Savage, music director Bruce Frazier, and writer and producer Don Connelly.

Each of the shows in the series hearkens back to the golden age of radio, featuring a live orchestra and sound effects and produced only once before a live audience in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. The production group has won seven national broadcasting awards for its unique projects. The upcoming production will be recorded for future radio broadcast.

The auditions will consist of reading small sections of the script that will be available to view in the office of WCU’s School of Stage and Screen (Stillwell 233) beginning Monday, Nov. 30. No prior acting experience is required. A signup sheet with audition time slots also will be posted in the office.

The show includes roles for 19 characters, and some actors may be cast to play more than one role, which was common in the early days of radio. The characters range in age from 17 to 93. “Acting on the radio is so different than for a traditional play or musical,” Savage said. “The actor has to carry the entire role with his or her voice. It is very similar to when an actor does voiceover work for an animated motion picture.”

The radio show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, in the Bardo Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and will go on sale Jan. 11. Proceeds are used to fund scholarships in participating academic departments.

Funding for “Blackbeard’s Ghost and the Queen Ann’s Revenge” is provided by WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Department of Communication, School of Music, School of Stage and Screen, and the Carol Grotnes Belk Endowment.

Individuals who have questions about auditions should contact Savage at

By Randall Holcombe

IT’s new ‘Let Me In’ site users you reset their password

The Division of Information Technology at Western Carolina University is making it easier than ever for users to recover their password if they ever forget it – though a working mobile phone number is necessary.

Registered users of the WCU networks will be able to visit in order to change their password when they need to.

Before users can do so, they must go to the site and click “Enroll” to register for password reset. After registration, if the user’s password is forgotten, a visit to can reset it. Verification will take place through the mobile phone and the correct answers to security questions.

The password can be changed for network usage and email, but the site’s tool will not reset a MyCat password.

Learn more at this link on the IT site, DoIT News. For assistance with the site’s tool, reach the IT Help Desk by phone at 828-227-7484, by email at or online at

– Contributed information

Annual ‘Sounds of the Season’ concert at WCU celebrates the holidays in song

The annual “Sounds of the Season” holiday concert will be presented by Western Carolina University’s School of Music on Sunday, Dec. 6.

The concert will begin at 3 p.m. in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center with performances by the Jackson County Youth Chorus and WCU student ensembles, Concert Choir and University Chorus and special appearances by Pavel Wlosok, WCU associate professor for jazz studies, and the WCU Percussion Ensemble for “The Nutcracker Suite.”

In the spirit of the holidays, the School of Music also encourages the audience to bring canned food items, which will be delivered to the Community Table, a Jackson County nonprofit food bank.

“The season will come alive through music, from Christmas classics to children’s songs, jazz arrangements and choral works, and more,” said Sheila Frizzell, of the School of Music staff. “Our special guest is Santa Claus and he’ll lead an audience sing-along of holiday favorites to close the program.”

Reserved seat tickets are on sale now. Prices are $17 for adults; $11 for WCU faculty, staff and those 60 and older; and $5 for students and children. Group rates are available for advance purchase only. Proceeds benefit the School of Music Scholarship Fund. For tickets or information, visit or call 828-227-2479.

By Geoff Cantrell

WCU traditional music concert/jam series continues with Highway 74

The 2015-16 First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series at Western Carolina University will continue Thursday, Dec. 3, with a concert featuring Highway 74.

The band’s 7 p.m. performance in the ground-floor auditorium of H.F. Robinson Administration Building will be followed by an 8 p.m. jam session in which local musicians are invited to participate.

Comprised of residents of Jackson and Swain counties, Highway 74 includes Michael Morgan, guitar; Will Howell, guitar and lead vocals; Darin Brooks, bass and vocals; and Mike Laws, banjo. The group performed at WCU’s fall festival, Mountain Heritage Day, in September.

Sponsored by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, the First Thursday concerts and jam sessions will continue through next spring, with programs from 7 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.

The events are free and open to the public. Pickers and singers of all ages and experience levels are invited to take part in the jam sessions, which also are open to those who just want to listen.

For more information, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.

By Randall Holcombe

Lillard completes advanced police management program

Steve Lillard, assistant chief of the Western Carolina University police, graduated on Friday, Nov. 20, from the North Carolina Justice Academy’s Management Development Program.

“This is probably the most intensive law enforcement management program in North Carolina,” said Ernie Hudson, WCU chief of police. “It lasts 11 months. It is referred to as the premier law enforcement executive training in the state.”

The Management Development Program that Lillard completed is in addition to the North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training program required of all of WCU’s campus police officers.

For more information, see the police training page in the university police section of the WCU website, or contact Lillard at 828-227-7301.

Perry to deliver keynote at summit in New Zealand

Lane Perry, director of WCU’s Center for Service Learning, will deliver a keynote address titled “To strive for a higher purpose: High impact community engagement as a tool for balance” at the Third Community Engagement Summit on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at his alma mater, the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Perry’s keynote is part of a larger program for the summit, which is focused on the theme of “Universities as Good Neighbors.”

Kwochka research on crystalline structure published

A paper co-authored by Bill Kwochka, associate professor of organic chemistry at WCU, was recently published in the Journal of Chemical Crystallography. The article is titled “Synthesis of the 4-Picoline (4-Pic) Complex of 4-Trifluoromethylphenylboronic Acid Catechol Ester (TFCB): The Unusual Co-crystal Structure—5(4-Pic·TFCB)·4-Pic.”

His co-authors on the paper are Nick Wilcox, who graduated from WCU with his master’s in chemistry in May, and Robert Pike, the Floyd D. Gottwald Sr. Professor of Chemistry at the College of William and Mary.

Belt, Francis film nominated for Midsouth Emmy

A documentary associate-produced by two Western Carolina University faculty members, “First Language – The Race to Save Cherokee,” has been nominated for a Midsouth Emmy.

A promotion from the television premiere of "First Language" on UNC-TV acknowledges associate producers Tom Belt and Hartwell Francis.

A promotion from the television premiere of “First Language” on UNC-TV acknowledges associate producers Tom Belt and Hartwell Francis.

Hartwell Francis, director of WCU’s Cherokee language program, and Tom Belt, coordinator of the program and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, were interviewed in the documentary as well as having a hand in producing it.

Midsouth Emmy Awards are issued by the Nashville-based chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and recognize excellence in programming created and shared from sources in North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.

The film’s other recent honors include the Audience Award early last month at the Red Rock Film Festival in Cedar City, Utah, and being scheduled for an upcoming screening in January at the sixth annual Das Nordamerika Film Festival in Stuttgart, Germany. The latter will showcase 50 films made by Native Americans and Inuits as film directors, actors and playwrights in which they portray their culture and their way of life.

Belt was recently recognized by the North Carolina Folklore Society for his work in preserving the Cherokee language.

By Keith Brenton

Sholder to preside over jury at French film festival

Jack Sholder, professor in WCU’s Film And Television Production Program, was announced as president of the jury for the seventh annual French fantasy/horror film festival officially known as “Festival International du Film Fantastique” in Audincourt, May 26-29.

Jack Sholder

Jack Sholder

More commonly known by the English moniker “Bloody Week-End 2016,” the festival is described at its website as a cultural event featuring an international competition of short films and convention of fans of the fantastic film.

The festival’s announcement, translated to English, noted “Today, Jack Sholder is professor of film production at Western Carolina University, where he puts the experience and skills he acquired during his long and distinguished career at the service of his students.”

Sholder is known for his film directing achievements in the genre, including “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” (New Line, 1985), “The Hidden” (New Line, 1987) and “12 Days of Terror” (Fox, 2004).

For more information, see the festival’s official website: (English and French language text available).

By Keith Brenton

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Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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