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out frBy Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent

About a year ago, Patrick O’Neal bought an old, chrome-rimmed Schwinn bicycle. He was just looking for an alternative way to get to class from his off-campus dorm. Now he spends most weekends enduring long periods of what he and other cyclists acknowledge as a kind of physical and mental punishment. 

It is a grinding workout routine. The Western Carolina University senior spends his weekends pedaling several dozen mountain miles and speaks with enthusiasm about “putting your body through hell.”

“It’s pretty much my whole life right now,” O’Neal said.

fr foodGreen space and gardens dominate much of the Western North Carolina landscape, but what determines whether people here actually eat the fruits and veggies that abound? That’s what April Tallant, health professor at WCU, hopes to find out as she crunches the numbers from her latest research project. 

coverTake an evening walk through the woods this time of year, and odds are you’ll hear the grumpy quacking of a male wood frog, showing off for the ladies. The sound promises the return of warm days and growing gardens, even as icy temperatures fill the forecast. 

For Jessica Duke, this harbinger of a new season coincides with the end of an old. The Western Carolina University graduate student is wrapping up a year of study on behalf of local amphibian species like the wood frog, and what she’s found offers encouragement for animals that are up against some hard times.  

fr wcuentrepreneurJake Flannick • SMN Correspondent

For as long as he can remember, Austin Brown’s fascination with plants has remained rooted in their relationship with people.

When the clock strikes midnight and Dec. 31 gives way to Jan. 1, the tolling of the bell won’t symbolize the start of just another typical new year at Western Carolina University. Instead, the first day of 2014 will mark the beginning of WCU’s 125th year of existence, and university faculty, staff and students are planning a yearlong celebration to mark the milestone.

The fall semester came to a close at Western Carolina University on Dec. 14 as commencement exercises were held in Ramsey Regional Activity Center to recognize the university’s newest graduating class and a group of WCU alumni who were awarded degrees in August.

coverDark clouds hung above Cullowhee last Friday morning. And as the rain fell on the mountain community, tears slid down the face of Suzanne Stone.

“I’m numb,” she said. “I rotate between crying and disbelief. It’s like losing your home.”

Faculty and student representatives at Western Carolina University expressed concern last week over recent legislative actions in Raleigh. 

A new campus Master Plan endorsed Friday (Dec. 6) by the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees is designed to closely link physical facilities of the university, including future construction and renovation, to goals of its recently approved strategic plan.

out frWestern Carolina University’s Hunter Library will produce a new digital collection of 2,000 items focused on the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with support from a $93,000 grant from the North Carolina State Library.

“The park certainly has an amazing and well-cared-for archive, but it’s locked away,” said Anne Fariello, associate professor of digital initiatives with Hunter Library. “We will be digitally preserving and increasing access to material that is important, not only to the development of the park, but also to the region.”

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