Western Carolina University: Wikis


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Western Carolina University
Motto Facultas Vestri Mentis(Latin)
Motto in English Power Your Mind
Established 1889
Type Public
Endowment $33.9 million[1]
Chancellor John Bardo
Provost Kyle R. Carter
Faculty 502[2]
Staff 1642[2]
Undergraduates 7,455
Postgraduates 1,979
Location Cullowhee, North Carolina, United States
Campus Rural/Valley
589 acres (2.38 km2)
Colors Purple and gold
Nickname Catamounts
Athletics NCAA Division I FCS
16 varsity teams
Affiliations SoCon, University of North Carolina system
Website www.wcu.edu
Western Carolina University logo

Western Carolina University (WCU) is a coeducational public university located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The university is a constituent campus of the University of North Carolina system.[3]

The fifth oldest institution[4] of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system, the university was founded to educate the people of the western North Carolina mountains. The university has expanded its mission to serve the entire state and the nation and has grown to become a major cultural, scientific, and educational force in the state and region.[5] WCU now serves more than 9,500 full time undergraduate and post graduate students, providing an education to students from 46 states and 39 countries.[6]



Map of North Carolina highlighting Jackson County, NC

Western Carolina University is located in Jackson County, in the unincorporated village of Cullowhee, North Carolina. The university operates satellite campuses in both Asheville and Cherokee with programs offered online and at various community colleges.[7][8][9][10] The main campus is located in a valley of the Tuckasegee River between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, 52 miles (84 km) west of Asheville, North Carolina and 5 miles south of Sylva, NC. The university lies close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation (officially known as the Qualla Boundary) and some of the nation's most beautiful national forest lands. At an elevation of 2,100 feet (640 m), but located in a thermal valley, the campus enjoys the best of all four seasons but is shielded from most extreme temperatures by surrounding peaks. Cullowhee typically enjoys a rather mild winter season, in fact, Cullowhee can go some winters without snowfall or with just a trace.[11]

While winters in the valley are generally mild, snow is not unusual in the higher elevations of Jackson County around Cashiers or Balsam. In nearby Sapphire Valley, snowmaking machines maintain prime snow skiing conditions from mid-December through February. Locations in Jackson County are also within reasonable driving distance to ski slopes at Maggie Valley. The Blue Ridge Parkway is usually closed during winter weather, and has become popular with cross country skiiers during those times.[12]

The many rivers, streams and forests surrounding Cullowhee, combined with the mild climate of Southern Appalachia, offer many opportunities for outdoor activities. Climbing, hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, and camping are a few of the outdoor activities nearby.[13] Cities within a three hour drive of campus include Atlanta, Georgia[14]; Charlotte, North Carolina;[15] Knoxville, Tennessee;[16] and Greenville, South Carolina.[17]


The Joyner Building served as a combination classroom and administration facility

In 1888, the citizens of Cullowhee desired a better school for the community than was offered in public schools of that day,[18] organized a board of trustees and established a community school that came to be known as Cullowhee Academy.[19] Founded in August 1889 as a semi-public secondary school and chartered as Cullowhee High School in 1891 (also called Cullowhee Academy), it served the Cullowhee community and boarding students from neighboring counties and other states.[20] The founder, Robert Lee Madison, wanted to provide an education for the young people in the region and train teachers to spread education throughout the Western Carolina part of the state.[21][22] In 1893, through the efforts of Walter E. Moore, representative from Jackson County, the North Carolina Legislature authorized an appropriation for the establishment of a normal department at the school "for the purpose of training teachers".[19] This designation became the first publicly funded normal school in North Carolina.[23]

In 1905, the state assumed title to the school’s buildings and property and made it a state institution. That same year, the school’s name was changed to Cullowhee Normal & Industrial School. In 1925, the school’s name was changed to Cullowhee State Normal School. During its years as Cullowhee Normal, the stated purpose of the school was to train teachers for the North Carolina public schools. A coeducational institution, Cullowhee Normal trained over two thousand teachers by the mid-1920s.[24]

Over the next forty years, the school expanded its curriculum and evolved into a junior college, and in 1929 it was chartered by the legislature as a four-year institution under the name Western Carolina Teachers College. Called "the Cullowhee experiment", Madison’s idea became a model for the other regional colleges in the state.[23]

The demand for both liberal arts and other programs led to an expansion of the school's offerings. [23] Postgraduate studies and the Master of Arts in Education degree were added to the curriculum in 1951. In 1953, the name "Western Carolina College" was adopted.

In 1967, the institution was designated a regional university by the North Carolina General Assembly and given its current title, "Western Carolina University."[25] On July 1, 1972, WCU became a member of the University of North Carolina system.[26]


Precis of the University's History

Year - Name and Levels[27]
1889 Semi-private school
1891 Cullowhee High School
1893 First state appropriation; Normal Department established; First graduating class
1905 Cullowhee Normal and Industrial School
1912 Junior College rank established; Secondary school discontinued
1913 First college-level (one-year) degree awarded
1925 Cullowhee State Normal School
1929 Western Carolina Teachers College; Senior College rank established
1931 First Baccalaureate degree awarded
1951 Graduate degree established
1952 First Master's degree awarded
1953 Western Carolina College
1967 Western Carolina University
1972 A constituent institution of the University of North Carolina


R.L. Madison, founder and first president

The university is led by Chancellor John Bardo, the chief administrative officer, along with Provost Kyle Carter and several advisory groups.[28][29] The institution operates under the guidance and policies of the Board of Trustees of Western Carolina University.[30] WCU also falls under the administration of University of North Carolina system president Erskine Bowles.


  • 1889-1912 Robert Lee Madison
  • 1912-1920 Alonzo Carlton Reynolds
  • 1920-1923 Robert Lee Madison
  • 1923-1947 Hiram Tyram Hunter
  • 1947-1949 William Ernest Bird
  • 1949-1956 Paul Apperson Reid
  • 1956-1957 William Ernest Bird
  • 1957-1968 Paul Apperson Reid
  • 1968-1972 Alexander Simpson Pow
  • 1972-1972 Frank Hamilton Brown, Jr. (Acting)


  • 1972-1973 Jack Kenneth Carlton
  • 1973-1973 William Hugh McEniry (Acting)
  • 1974-1974 Frank Hamilton Brown, Jr. (Acting)
  • 1974-1984 H. F. Robinson
  • 1984-1994 Myron L. Coulter
  • 1994-1995 John H. Wakeley (Interim)
  • 1995-Present John W. Bardo


  • 2004-Present Kyle R. Carter


Academic Structure

The university's academic structure is composed of five undergraduate colleges, the Kimmel School, the Honors College and Graduate School:

Academic Programs

With its main campus located on the site of an ancient Cherokee Indian village[31] and adjacent to the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, Western Carolina has a commitment to the rich traditions of both the Appalachian and Cherokee cultures. The university's Mountain Heritage Center; Cherokee Center; Craft Revival Project; Cherokee Studies Program and WCU's partnership to preserve the Cherokee language[32] both reflect that influence — and provides educational resources for the region.[33]

Western is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a comprehensive master’s degree granting institution (Masters/L)[34] in the newly added elective “community engagement” category.[35] WCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award degrees at the bachelor, masters, intermediate, and doctoral (in education) levels. The university holds 21 program accreditations and is a member of more than 30 state and national associations and organizations to which its professional programs are related.[36] In 2009, the Corporation for National and Community Service recognized WCU by awarding the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for “exemplary commitment to service and civic engagement” on WCU’s campus and beyond.[37]

As the sixth-largest producer of teachers in North Carolina, the College of Education and Allied Professions was the national winner of the Association of Teacher Educators' Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award[38] in 2006. The college is also the 2007 co-winner of the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award[39] presented by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The Christa McAuliffe Award nationally recognizes outstanding programs in teacher education at AASCU member institutions.

Western Carolina's Forensic Research Facility or "Body Farm" is just the second facility of its kind nationally.[40] The decomposition research station is an extremely valuable resource for researchers and forensic anthropology students to study natural decomposition.

The residential Honors College was first of its kind in North Carolina.[41] The College is a community of high-achieving students that strives to provide an intellectually inviting atmosphere that offers academic challenge and enrichment for outstanding students. Newly accepted students are invited to live in one of two exclusive residence halls on campus. The Honors College is one of a few in the state to offer a residential option and among a few nationwide to award graduates with a special honors diploma. The college began in 1998 with 77 students and has grown to approximately 1,400. For entering freshman, the Honor's College average weighted GPA is over 4.00. The College is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

In the spring of 2000, WCU was officially designated a National Merit sponsoring university, just the fourth institution of higher education in North Carolina, public or private, to receive that distinction[42] The university grants scholarships to students who qualify as National Merit Finalists. The Western Meritorious Award for Finalists provides a four-year scholarship, which covers the equivalent amount of in-state tuition, fees, room, and board, to National Merit Finalists, who also receive a computer.

The 2010 edition of the U.S. News & World Report guide to “America’s Best Colleges” ranks Western Carolina University 10th[43] among public universities in the South that offer master’s degrees. The 2009 edition of the Princeton Review “Best 296 Business Schools” ranks the College of Business among the nation’s best schools at which to earn a master’s degree in business administration. WCU’s program earned a top-four spot for schools offering the greatest opportunity for women and receiving high marks for small class sizes. Western Carolina's online master’s degree in project management has been ranked the No. 1 ranking nationally in both affordability and quality by GetEducated.com.[44] In 2007, the Master of Entrepreneurship Program was selected as one of the five best online entrepreneurship programs by Fortune Small Business magazine.[45]

Centers, Institutes, & Affiliates

Community focus, scholarly research, business development, preservation of the Cherokee & Appalachian Mountain cultures, and the advancement of technology & public policy are the guiding principals of Western Carolina's Centers, Institutes & Affiliates.


Main campus

The main campus is located in the mountains of North Carolina

The main campus in Cullowhee offers most of the amenities of a small town, including fourteen residence halls, two full-service cafeterias, two food courts with fast-food outlets, health services, counseling, a bookstore, library, two indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, movie theater, jogging trail and quarter-mile track, and intramural fields.

The campus center is the Hinds University Center.[46] The UC contains the university post office, a movie theater, video and commuter lounges, student organization HQs, meeting rooms and office space. Outside of the UC is the Alumni Tower, built in 1989, on 100th birthday of the university.[47]

The campus residence buildings include one for graduate students and one for married students. Special residence accommodations include honors residence halls and The Village, home to residential Greek organizations. Three new residence facilities were recently completed and in April 2008, the university broke ground on a $50.2 million residence hall project.[48] The new $18 million dollar 53,000-square-foot (4,900 m2) campus dining facility was opened in stages beginning in July 2009.[49] Other newly constructed facilities include the Center for Applied Technology (which houses new engineering laboratories); an expanded student life center; new athletic facilities; and a new student support center. A recently constructed $13.5 million 73,000-square-foot (6,800 m2) Student Recreation Center, was completed over the 2008 Summer.[50]

Construction has begun on a new $46.2 million Health and Gerontological Sciences Building.[51] This facility is the first project on the Millennial Initiative property and the facility will house WCU’s educational and outreach programs in the College of Health and Human Sciences. The four-story facility will become home to the School of Nursing and to programs in social work, physical therapy, athletic training, clinical laboratory sciences, environmental health, health information administration, nutrition and dietetics, emergency medical care, recreational therapy, and communication sciences and disorders.


WCU uses the educational facilities and resources of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College[52] and the graduate programs are affiliated with the Asheville Graduate Center.


The Western Carolina University Center in Cherokee, North Carolina was established in 1975[53] in cooperation with the tribal government of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. The center serves Cherokee and the surrounding communities and is available to all of the people of the region.

WCU Student Media

Housed in the Student Media Center (Old Student Union) on the hill area of campus are WCU's Student Media Organizations, which are open to all students and are produced by students. The following organizations are a part of WCU Student Media:

  • Western Carolinian Newspaper: A bi-weekly newspaper focusing on news and events relevant to the campus and surrounding community. Includes News, Features, Sports, and Arts & Entertainment sections. Available in print in the local area and on-line at www.westerncarolinian.com.
  • TV 62: The student-run campus television station, offering original programing to the campus on channel 62.
  • WCAT: Cable & Internet radio station offering an eclectic mix of music chose by student DJs, as well as original talk shows and artist interviews.
  • The Nomad: WCU's Literature & Art magazine, published once a year in the Spring semester.
  • The Gadfly: WCU's Journal of Social Criticism and Philosophy. Satirical pieces philosophically critiquing society-at-large in a humorous manner. Published once a semester.

University Media

The university produces the following publications:

  • Western Carolina Magazine: A seasonal publication primarily for alumni and friends of WCU, Western Carolina Magazine contains features on university people and programs, alumni updates, and news and events.
  • The Reporter: A bi-monthly newsletter for the faculty and staff of WCU, The Reporter features news, events, and campus community updates.
  • MountainRise: an open, peer-reviewed, international electronic journal published twice a year by the Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at Western Carolina University for the purpose of being an international vehicle for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL).
  • All-Western Carolina: The All-Western Carolina radio program airs during half-time of Catamount Sports Network broadcasts and highlights WCU’s academic all-stars and happenings on campus.

Radio, television and news by WCU students includes:[54]

  • WWCU-FM: WWCU-FM, Power 90.5, is the broadcast service of WCU and broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as Jackson County's only FM radio station.
  • Channel 62: Channel 62 is WCU’s closed-circuit television station with offices located in the A.K. Hinds University Center. Channel 62 is an organization that allows students to showcase their short films, as well as announce events on campus and highlight recent sporting events.
  • Western Carolinian: A bi-monthly print and electronic publication, the Western Carolinian is written, edited and produced by WCU students. This student-run newspaper strives to keep the members of the WCU campus informed.
  • The NOMAD: Student staff members work together to produce and distribute WCU’s student literary magazine The Nomad.
  • The Tuckasegee Valley Historical Review: The Tuckasegee Valley Historical Review[55] is an annually published graduate history journal. The review publishes articles by WCU graduate students in history with a primarily local focus.
  • WCU on iTunes U Faculty and students are podcasting using WCU on iTunes U service from Apple Inc. This media repository was publicly listed on the iTunes U Colleges and Universities listings in August of 2009.

Greek life

WCU is home to a wide range of Greek fraternities and sororities, as well as several councils and societies. The Greek community offers many social opportunities to enrich college life. Greeks get personal guidance in planning their curriculum and choosing classes and instructors, and assistance with registration and financial aid. Chapter study sessions, educational programs, tutoring, and study partners and teams offer support for developing and maintaining study skills. Greeks are recognized for their academic successes through Greek scholarship and awards programs and honor societies such as the Order of Omega. According to figures from U.S. News & World Report, 9% of male students are in fraternities, while 8% of female students are in sororities.[56]


Greek Councils & Societies
Interfraternity Council
Order of Omega


Black Fraternities & Sororities


Catamount Athletic Logo
Ramsey Center basketball and volleyball arena

As a member of the Southern Conference, Western Carolina University participates in NCAA Division I athletics. Intercollegiate athletics include football, men and women's basketball, baseball, softball, women's soccer, men and women's golf, men and women's track and field (Indoor and Outdoor), cross country running, women's volleyball and tennis. Catamount football is a member of Division I FCS and plays at Whitmire Stadium. The Ramsey Center is home to men's and women's basketball, and women's volleyball. Baseball is played at Hennon Stadium, softball is played at the Catamount Softball Complex, and the Catamount Athletic Complex is home to women's soccer, tennis, and track and field.

On November 29, 1980, Western Carolina's Ronnie Carr made the first intercollegiate three point field goal[57] in college basketball history versus Middle Tennessee State University, a game WCU won 77-70. The ball he used is on display at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The shot was made from the left corner with 16:09 left in the first half (7:06 pm).

Western Carolina and Appalachian State have a football rivalry in which they Battle for the Old Mountain Jug on an annual basis. [58] The Catamounts football team was runners-up in the Division I-AA National Football Championship Game in 1983.


Pride of the Mountains

Catamount Marching Band Logo

The Pride of the Mountains is the largest college marching band in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The marching band includes around 350 members, making it one of the largest marching bands in the United States. The band is open to all Western Carolina students regardless of class or major, with approximately 60% of its members non-music majors.

The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band was the special guest at the 2008 Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, an honor given to only 1 college band in the United States each year. In 2009, the "Pride of the Mountains" marching band was selected as one of the five best collegiate marching bands in the nation by the College Band Directors National Association and featured in the book "Marching Bands and Drumlines: Secrets of Success from the Best of the Best” by Paul Buyer.

The band is the 2009 recipient of the Sudler Trophy awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.[59]

Notable alumni

Andrew C. Brock - NC Senator


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External links

Coordinates: 35°18′39.60″N 83°11′02.40″W / 35.311°N 83.184°W / 35.311; -83.184

Preceded by
Indiana University
Sudler Trophy Recipient
Succeeded by


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