A year in the making, Western Carolina University has sealed a deal with the Charles Koch Foundation for a $1.8 million gift to set up an economic research center on campus with a focus on economic development and free market ideas.

Few if any universities have made the Charles Koch Foundation jump quite so many hurdles before opening its wallet as Western Carolina University has.

Western Carolina University faculty tasked with overseeing a $2 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation had their work cut out for them when they collectively rolled up their sleeves last February.

A firestorm over a $2 million gift from political operative Charles Koch ignited the campus of Western Carolina University last fall in a rare but heated clash between faculty and university leadership.

The RPMs hovered around 4,000, the truck huffing and puffing up the steep hillside.

Approaching Sam’s Gap (elevation 3,760 feet) on Interstate 26, I wondered if my old GMC Sonoma (aka: “Grace”) would be able to reach the crest before stalling out and rolling back down into rural Madison County. With Asheville and greater Western North Carolina fading into the rearview mirror, the blazing Friday afternoon sun began to fall behind the Bald Mountains nearing the Tennessee state line.

Celebrating Southern Appalachian culture through concerts, living-history demonstrations, competitions and awards programs, Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, on the campus in Cullowhee.

Can you find redemption within your own consequences?

In The Risen, the latest work from famed Southern Appalachian writer Ron Rash, the plot focuses on two Jackson County teenage brothers, an out-of-town femme fatale, and a decades-old question of what really happened to her — and also them — in the process.

Western Carolina University saw its previous high-water mark for enrollment blasted away this year as final student counts for 2016 came in, with new records set for both total enrollment and freshman class size.

With fall classes newly underway, 420 Western Carolina University students are settling into their rooms in brand new Noble Hall, a $29.3 million building that the university just completed. 

Who was Bayard Wootten?

“She was a wonderful, strong North Carolina woman,” said Pam Meister. “She was a skilled photographer. She was a feminist before her time. The more I learn about her, the more I’m impressed with her life.”

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