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Housing developer Scott Austin did a little simple math before deciding to pursue an $8 million dollar project to build two four-story apartment complexes in Cullowhee, right on the front doorstep of Western Carolina University.

He looked at the number of dormitory beds provided by the university for student housing — about 4,000. Then he researched the number of available, quality units in the area around the university and came up with another 1,000.

Western Carolina University will target transfer, graduate and distance learning students to help grow its enrollment without creating greater strain on its residence and dining halls.

This fall, enrollment at WCU reached a record 9,608, a 2.7 percent increase compared to fall 2011. Of those, 7,500 attend classes on campus in Cullowhee. The number of freshman who returned to the university for their sophomore year has also increased.

Western Carolina University leaders hope to benefit from a philosophical switch in state funding for higher education — one that would clamp down on universities gaming the system, whether on purpose or unintentionally, when it comes to funding student growth.

Every year, colleges and universities in North Carolina send the state their predictions for the following year’s enrollment. The state then allocates funding for each school based on the number of students it expects to attend.

fr wcupoliceYou probably won’t see them on television with the “Bad Boys” theme song playing in the background, jumping chain link fences or tackling shirtless men in motel parking lots — unless they have to. Rather, a lot of what goes into running Western Carolina University’s police force, one of the most complex law enforcement outfits in the region, happens behind the scenes in the planning room.

fr alcoholIt’s been more than three months since voters in Jackson County approved a countywide alcohol initiative. Yet, except for a few telltale signs, a look around Cullowhee on the doorstep of Western Carolina University wouldn’t lead anyone to believe that much has changed at all.

fr wcu hhsWestern Carolina University will unveil a state-of-the art $46 million Health and Human Sciences building when students return to campus in a few weeks.

The new Health and Human Sciences building is the first building to crown WCU’s Millennial Campus, and hopefully a stepping stone to help realize the initial vision for the 344-acre addition to campus.

art frThe Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet, quintet-in-residence at Western Carolina University, made a seven-day educational tour of Jamaica this summer to inspire the teaching and learning of brass instruments in the public schools there.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Sylva’s bars are not abandoning the town for the student-laden pastures of Cullowhee.

Area residents have heard whispers that the Bone Shack and O’Malley’s Pub and Grill — two bars that count college students among their base of patrons — will close their doors in Sylva and move their operations to Cullowhee.

Western Carolina University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new strategic plan — the 2020 Vision — at its meeting two weeks ago.

The plan is designed to give the university a clear set of goals for the next decade.

The university wanted to create “a plan that inspires (and) is doable,” said Chancellor David Belcher. “We wanted this to be the overarching guiding document for the university.”

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