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The town of Dillsboro will host Western Carolina University faculty, staff and students during a special event called “Destination: Dillsboro!” on Thursday, Nov. 18, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Designed to show Dillsboro’s appreciation for WCU, the event will feature merchants staying open late and offering free samples and discounts especially for the WCU community.

The evening will feature a raffle drawing for numerous prizes from Dillsboro merchants for faculty and staff and a scavenger hunt using the social network Twitter for students.

To be eligible for the prizes, faculty and staff will enter their registration forms into a basket at the Jarrett House, which is serving as headquarters for the event. Registration forms are being sent through the WCU e-mail system, and prizes will be drawn throughout the evening. Once visitors register at the Jarrett House, they will be given a new holiday shopping guide that provides an updated map of the town and ideas for holiday gift giving from Dillsboro.

Mayor Mike Fitzgerald will be greeting guests and making an official declaration of appreciation for WCU at the Jarrett House at 6 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to a great night,” Fitzgerald said. “The town will be decorated in purple and gold, but we’re rolling out the red carpet for the Catamounts. We hope WCU folks and their families will come down — if only for a little while — to check out the shops and eat at the restaurants. We’ve made a special effort to provide free child care and activities for the kids, so the whole family can enjoy the event.”

For WCU personnel with children, volunteers will provide free child care services at the Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church on Church Street. There will be 20 spots available from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 20 spots from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Children ages 3 to 12 are eligible and advance reservations are required. Art activities, games and snacks will be provided. To RSVP for child care, contact Casey Hodges at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Destination: Dillsboro! is the latest event in a recent partnership forged the town and WCU. The overall goal of the partnership is economic revitalization. Numerous faculty, staff and students from across the university are working on a variety of projects including small business counseling, survey research, marketing, public relations, broadcasting, arts, entertainment and special events.

For more information about the Dillsboro/WCU partnership or any of the Nov. 18 activities, contact Betty Farmer, special assistant to the chancellor for Dillsboro, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.227.3804.

— By Matthew Hoagland, WCU

Up to 1,700 jobs, perhaps a whole campus eliminated — the dire picture painted this month by Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system, on the state of higher education during these tough economic times isn’t pretty.

Locally, staff and faculty at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, Southwestern Community College in Sylva and Haywood Community College in Clyde are preparing for significant budget cuts.

Most likely, a 10-percent reduction is coming. State colleges and universities across North Carolina, however, are outlining what they’d do in response to higher and lower reductions, as directed by the UNC system and The State Board of Community Colleges.

“We are hearing talk of impending heavy slashing and have been asked to prepare scenarios of how we would deal with 5-, 10- and even 15-percent cuts,” said Rose Hooper Garrett, public information officer for SCC, via email.

A year ago, the UNC system took a $70 million cut, or less than 3 percent.

 

Sorting it out

“At this point, it’s too early in the process to provide the actual impact of what a 10-percent budget reduction would do to the overall operations of WCU,” said Chuck Wooten, vice chancellor for administration and finance for the university.

“It’s fair to say that most likely we will have fewer class sections, more students in each class, more dependence on part-time faculty, reduced funds for faculty travel and professional development, fewer funds for general operations such as supplies and equipments, elimination of vacant positions, possible elimination of positions that are currently filled, and reduced funds for general maintenance of the physical plant of the campus.”

Here’s what is happening: North Carolina is facing a budget deficit of $3.5 billion.

At 5 percent, the UNC system would cut $135 million and likely eliminate 800 jobs. At 10 percent, the UNC system would cut $270 million and eliminate 1,700 jobs.

“We’re really going to impact the academic side,” the Associated Press quoted Bowles as saying.

Rose Harrell Johnson, president of Haywood Community College, said the community college would lose more than $1,306,478 with a 10-percent reduction.

“For comparison, the college received an increase of $1,213,111 in state funding this fiscal year because it had a 10.77 percent enrollment increase,” Johnson said. “If the budget reduction becomes reality, the college will lose its enrollment growth budget increase and potentially more.”

Among other measures, Garrett said SCC has been considering tuition increases.

“At the system office we will look at operations, contracts and personnel,” she said.

 

Preparing for the worst

Wooten said WCU anticipated budget reductions by making a number of decisions in the 2009-2010 fiscal year to take in budget reductions totaling about 8 percent, which eliminated 93.92 positions.

“After satisfying budget reductions for 2010-11, $4,404,792 remained for use against future budget reductions,” Wooten said.

WCU would see reductions of $8,638,874 at the 10-percent level and $4,319,437 at the 5 percent level, he said.

“WCU’s plan, which was submitted to the Office of State Budget and Management, would first offer up the full amount remaining from previous budget reductions ($4,404,792) to satisfy the 5-percent budget reduction plan, and campus divisions and departments have identified additional budget reductions ($4,234,082) to satisfy a 10-percent budget reduction plan … (this) would potentially eliminate 41.08 positions in the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget.”

The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University will host a number of events in November.

The museum is in the Fine and Performing Arts Center on the WCU campus. All events are free and the public is invited to attend.

• Family Day, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 13 — Parents and children are invited to participate in a scavenger hunt and other activities that encourage children’s interest in art. Enjoy popcorn and prizes at the event, which is sponsored in part by the WCU School of Art and Design’s art education program and the Jackson County Arts Council through support from the N.C. Arts Council.

• Handmade Holiday Trunk Show, 2:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 — As part of its 3rd Thursdays at the FAM series, the Fine Art Museum will host the Handmade Holiday Trunk Show, an opportunity to buy directly from artists including WCU students and staff and community members. All items are priced at less than $100 and include silk scarves, jewelry, knitted wear, soaps, note cards and more. Coffee and tea will be available, with wine and cheese served from 5-6 p.m.

• Reception for exhibit by graduating students, 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29 — Titled “Oh Sweet Pestilence,” the exhibition will include a mix of ceramics, drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture by 12 students who are part of a class taught by Marya Roland, associate professor of art, that prepares students for entry into the professional art world. Participating students, all earning bachelors of fine arts, are Christine Cady, sculpture; Michael Dodson, sculpture; Lisa Erato, painting; Allyson Greer, printmaking;  Rachael Griffin, painting; Lauren Hill, printmaking; Alexandra Kirtley, printmaking; Sarah Lovell, painting; Michelle McAfee, sculpture; Constance McCormick, ceramics; Janine Paris, drawing; and Traci Pierce, ceramics. The exhibit will run through Friday, Dec. 3.

The Fine Art Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The museum also is open one hour before Fine and Performing Arts Center Galaxy of Stars performances.

For more information about these events, contact Denise Drury, the WCU Fine Art Museum curatorial specialist, at 828.227.3591 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit the museum online at fineartmuseum.wcu.edu.

It just wouldn’t be the Jackson County we’ve all come to know and love if there wasn’t some kind of community-action group watchdogging Western Carolina University’s attempts to create its very own incorporated town.

But it’s Jackson County, so of course, there’s now such a group — with the working name of the Cullowhee Coordinating Committee.

“The school, in the past, has behaved as if this is Cullowhee,” Robin Lang, the group’s spokeswoman, said one day last week, gesturing toward the university.

But, she argued, that’s not all of Cullowhee. The people who live in the area are Cullowhee, too. So are the local businesses, and the many people who have invested time and emotional energy into the university and into the area around WCU. All of these people and institutions, Lang said, deserve to be heard before something is done to change what they claim as theirs, too.

Some issues the group might look into:

Possible legal sales of alcoholic beverages — how will local restaurants compete if they can’t do the same? Are there Cherokee archaeological sites? Any Indian burials around WCU, or perhaps an old village or two? Environmental questions also abound — does the proposed Town Center have wetlands within its 35-acre tract, like some are claiming gave way during the building of the Ramsey Center? Are there ways to accomplish revitalization goals along Old Cullowhee Road without annexation?

A bit of background.

WCU, under the leadership of Chancellor John Bardo, is attempting to pair with its tiny neighbor, the 1997-incorporated Village of Forest Hills, to create a college town that would probably be called Cullowhee. Forest Hills is made up of fewer than 400 residents, most being current or retired faculty and staff of the university. (In an interesting twist of irony, the Village of Forest Hills  — which has no town hall or services to speak of, though it does contract some police protection — incorporated for one simple reason: to stave off students from taking over the community.)

WCU wants Forest Hills to voluntarily annex university land as the town center. There, Bardo has said, there would be commercial development, with leases extended to restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops and such, as well as condos and a few university offices. That vision has not included much in the way of local businesses — franchise restaurants have been mentioned, not such campus fixtures as the Mad Batter Bakery and Café or its ilk.

WCU bought 2.2 acres on Centennial Drive in January 2007 that houses the Mad Batter, a Subway sandwich shop, and several other commercial businesses.

Forest Hills Mayor Jim Wallace indicated last month that town aldermen were expecting to receive information from WCU soon on how the town could best accommodate a mixed-use land plan.

Tom McClure, director of the office of partnership development for the WCU Millennial Initiative, said there are some “internal discussions” taking place, and that it could be a matter of weeks before the necessary documents are ready for review.

McClure said he has prepared a draft, but that it is not yet ready for review. McClure said a 20-year or more development agreement is key. A “planned-unit development” would eliminate the need for each new business involved to get individual approval from the town.

Chancellor John Bardo has said WCU will ask town leaders to adopt wholesale the university’s design for a town center.

WCU’s desire to create a commercial hub and vibrant college town hinges on its tiny neighbor. Cullowhee is not currently incorporated as a town, and as a result, stores and restaurants can’t sell beer, wine or liquor drinks. That has proved a major stumbling block in attracting commercial ventures typically associated with college towns.

 

Get involved

The next meeting of the Cullowhee Coordinating Committee will be Thursday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. in WCU’s Honors College conference room. The meeting will last an hour.

Don’t rush when hiring a new chancellor to replace John Bardo, one board of trustee member for Western Carolina University cautioned the university’s other top leaders last week during a two-day annual retreat in Cullowhee.

Echoing the sentiments of the search firm — Baker and Associates, which has offices in Winston-Salem and Atlanta — hired to help a newly constituted search committee find exactly the right candidates for chancellor, former Asheville Mayor Charles Worley urged his fellow board of trustee members to “be sure we’ve got the right one — even if it takes a little longer.”

The selection process is estimated to take five to six months.

Bardo announced Oct. 11 he planed to retire. He spent more than 15 years as WCU’s chancellor.

“It is very important that you keep control of the process,” board of trustee member George Little said, adding cautionary words to those by Worley. “That’s why you’re there (on the committee) as a board member — so that we will have the best candidate.”

Six board of trustee members, including Vice Chairman Worley and Chairman Steve Warren, were placed on a 16-member committee tasked with nominating candidates to the full WCU board of trustees. The board will forward the names of at least two nominees, probably three, to new University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross. The UNC president will present his top selection to the full UNC Board of Governors for consideration and approval.

Ross, acting as president-elect (Erskine Bowles is retiring this year, at age 65, as UNC system president), will “charge” the WCU search committee Nov. 16. That date also represents the first meeting of the new committee.

In addition to the trustees, the committee is made up of WCU faculty, students, community members, alumni and administration.

Warren said the search committee would actively solicit ideas on what is wanted from the next WCU chancellor, through a Website being built and more. He wants to see a “statement of position” for the chancellor crafted before candidates are identified.

 

Internal appointments made

In other WCU-related news, Bardo announced last week that Dianne Lynch, chief of staff for WCU, would assume the role of acting vice chancellor for operations, effective immediately. The move, Bardo said, is in response to several interim appointments at the university’s executive level and in recognition of his own pending retirement.

“I have made this decision because I anticipate a challenging legislative session and I expect to be spending a considerable amount of time in Raleigh once the legislature convenes in late January,” said Bardo, who owns a house near Raleigh. “This interim appointment ensures that Dianne has the delegated authority to make and/or approve institutional decisions for non-academic areas of the university that may become necessary when I am not on campus, and until the chancellor’s search is completed and that individual has been named.”

Bardo’s retirement announcement meant the suspension of national searches that had been under way to fill two top university leadership positions. Chuck Wooten retired as vice chancellor on Jan. 1, and internal auditor Robert Edwards last week was tapped interim vice chancellor for administration and finance.

Additionally, searches were taking place for a replacement for Kyle Carter, who left WCU’s provost office to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke on July 1. Linda Seestedt-Stanford, dean of WCU’s college of health and human sciences, is serving as interim provost.

 

The search committee

• Steve Warren, chair of the board of trustees who will also chair the selection committee.

• Charles Worley, trustee, an Asheville attorney and 2001-2005 mayor of Asheville.

• Gerald Kister, trustee, a 1969 graduate of WCU and resident of Columbia, S.C. Former chief executive officer of La-Z-Boy Inc.

• Joan MacNeill, trustee, a Webster resident who is the former president and chief operating officer of Great Smoky Mountains Railway.

• Virginia “Tommye” Saunooke, trustee, a Cherokee resident and an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who serves on Tribal Council. Earned two degrees at WCU.

• Teresa Williams, trustee, a Huntersville resident who serves as board secretary.

• A.J. Grube, head of WCU’s department of business administration and law, and sport management.

• Erin McNelis, current chair of the WCU Faculty Senate. Associate professor of mathematics and computer science.

• Billy Ogletree, head of WCU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

• Daniel Dorsey, president of the Student Government Association. A senior from Decatur, Ga., majoring in communication.

• William Frady, chair of the WCU Staff Senate. Manager of instructional and student computing in the Division of Information Technology. Holds two degrees from WCU.

• Carol Burton, associate vice chancellor for WCU’s undergraduate studies. Holds two degrees from WCU.

• Betty Jo Allen, president of the WCU Alumni Association. A resident of Lincolnton and a 1968 graduate of WCU.

• Kenny Messer, former president of the WCU Alumni Association and past president of the Catamount Club Board of Directors. A Greenville, S.C., resident who is an executive with Milliken Corp.

• Phil Walker, former chair of the WCU Board of Trustees. Senior vice president with BB&T, a 1971 graduate of WCU, and chair of the recently completed campaign for WCU, which raised more than $52 million in private support.

• Scott Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of Advantage West, the regional economic development commission of Western North Carolina. Hamilton lives in Henderson County.

The Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University has created a new blog site designed to offer a nonpartisan glimpse into the world of North Carolina politics and policy.

The site, “Politics and Policy in the Tar Heel State,” features ongoing analysis and commentary about political issues.

After the election, the site will include posts designed to help explain what happened and what the results are likely to mean for North Carolina residents in the months ahead.

The site is the brainchild of Chris Cooper, director of WCU’s PPI and associate professor of political science and public affairs, and Gibbs Knotts, head of the WCU department of political science and public affairs.

“We intend to use this as a platform to add to the policy debate in the Tar Heel State,” Cooper said. “Most of our posts will try to connect findings in political science and public affairs to the real world of politics and policy in North Carolina.  Many of our posts will include original data analysis.”

To read the PPI blog, visit wcuppi.blogspot.com/

Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, for the annual Madrigal Christmas Dinners at Western Carolina University.

Tickets for the 2010 Madrigal Christmas Dinners at Western Carolina University will go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The dinners are re-creations of the pageantry, music and food of 16th-century England, with authentic madrigal entertainment and costumes. An annual event at WCU, they will be held this year at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center. The menu will include a choice of three entrees (including a vegetarian option), side dishes and beverages; tables seat eight apiece.

This will be the final year that Robert Holquist of the School of Music will take a lead role in organizing the dinners. Holquist, who has been active in the madrigal dinners since he joined the WCU faculty in 1979, conducts the Early Music Ensemble, a chorus that performs at the dinners. This year marks the introduction of a new lord and lady, Boyd and Lynda Sossamon, owners of Radio Shack in Sylva and both alumni of WCU.

Tickets for the dinners can be purchased in the University Center administrative offices (on the second floor of the U.C.) or by calling 828.227.7206 for credit card orders.

The changing face of Appalachia is the subject of an upcoming photography exhibit at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University.

“Seeing Rural Appalachia,” large-format photographs by Mike Smith, will run Sunday, Oct. 24, through Friday, Dec. 17. The public is invited to a free reception beginning at 2 p.m. Oct. 24.

Smith’s photographs expose the human impact on the landscape, from aged, weather-softened farm buildings that seem to be an organic part of the landscape to the jarring reality of big, bright, new gas stations. His photographs of rural Tennessee show the lush beauty of the land while they reveal the suburban encroachment that threatens much of rural Appalachia. This exhibit collects Smith’s work from the past five years.

“The natural mountain landscape immediately made a profound impression on me when I arrived in East Tennessee in 1981. So did the rural lifestyle of the population,” Smith said. “Weeks after I arrived, I began my attempt to define both with my camera. I continue that effort today.”

Smith is a professor of art at East Tennessee State University, a Guggenheim Fellow and a founding member of the Appalachian Photographers Project. His works have been acquired by major U.S. museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum. His monograph “You’re Not from Around Here: Photographs of East Tennessee” was published in 2004, and he’s exhibited work at the Whitney Museum and San Francisco MoMA.

The Fine Art Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The museum also is open one hour before Fine and Performing Arts Center Galaxy of Stars performances and selected Saturday “Family Art Days.”

For more information, contact Denise Drury, curatorial assistant, at 828.227.3591 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit the museum online at fineartmuseum.wcu.edu.

Western Carolina University will mark five years of art and entertainment beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center with a gala featuring art, music and a theatrical revue of songs by George and Ira Gershwin.

Festivities move indoors at 7 p.m. for a performance by WCU’s resident Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet, followed by a 7:30 p.m. curtain time for “’S Wonderful.” The new off-Broadway revue transports the audience to different places in different decades with scenes set in New York in the ’20s, Paris in the ’30s, Hollywood in the ’40s and New Orleans in the ’50s. Musical numbers include classics such as “Swanee,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Nice Work if you Can Get It,” “Summertime,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

“It is time to celebrate and reaffirm the magic of this facility,” said Robert Kehrberg, founding dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts at WCU and member of the committee that began planning the facility.

The gala, recognition of past FAPAC achievements as well as a look ahead, will begin with an outdoor cocktail reception held under tents in the FAPAC courtyard. Reception guests will experience the unveiling of WCU’s new outdoor sculpture exhibition and have the opportunity to preview a Fine Art Museum exhibit of contemporary images of Appalachia by photographer Mike Smith.

Tickets to the Gershwin revue plus entry to the cocktail reception $100. Orchestra seats for only “’S Wonderful” $50; club seating $35; and balcony seat tickets $25.

To buy tickets or for information call 828.227.2479 or fapac.wcu.edu.

A concert and free symposium to raise awareness of the intersection of environmental, health and indigenous issues related to mountain destruction will be held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 21-22, in the theater of the A.K. Hinds University Center at Western Carolina University.

WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach and Cherokee Studies Program are sponsoring the first “Rooted in the Mountains: Valuing Our Common Ground” with the Center for Native Health, which initiated the project.

The concert will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and will feature entertainment by Sheila Kay Adams, Tawodi Brown, John John Grant, Kate Larken, Sue Massek, Paula Nelson and the WCU Porch Music Club. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7.50 at the door, with proceeds benefiting iLoveMountains.org.

The symposium, free and open to the public, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. Keynote speaker, Silas House, an acclaimed writer and National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College, and other presenters, including Clara Sue Kidwell (enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa tribe), director, American Indian Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Evelyn Conley (Keetoowah), chair, Indigenous Education Institute; Tom Belt (Cherokee), WCU Cherokee language instructor; Heidi Altman, associate professor of anthropology, Georgia Southern University; Marilou Awiakta (Cherokee), author; ethnobotanist David Cozzo, a WCU faculty member and director of the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources; and Brian Byrd, WCU assistant professor of environmental health will be present.

Other sponsors include WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, the Canary Coalition and the Tuckasegee Community Alliance.

Preregister online at www.wcu.edu/27734.asp; for information, contact Pamela Duncan, symposium co-chair, at 828.227.3926.

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