By Randall Holcombe • WCU
The little school that was the forerunner of Western Carolina University was called Cullowhee Academy. Its location is marked by a stone memorial, erected in 1934, that sits in a garden area between the university’s steam plant and Breese Gymnasium. The memorial honors Robert Lee Madison, who was 22 when he taught his first class of 18 students at the academy on Aug. 5, 1889.
It’s August, freshman move-in day, and Western Carolina University is welcoming a new class of freshmen to campus. It’s what WCU Chancellor David Belcher calls a “huge day.”
“We’ve got students coming in right and left,” says Belcher.
One of those students is Kailey Spencer. She plans to study forensics and is looking forward to the lab work.
The Western Carolina University community is making preparations to welcome what is expected to be a record number of students for the start of fall semester classes on Monday, Aug. 18.
“Indicators are pointing to another all-time high in student enrollment, and we should exceed last year’s record enrollment of 10,107. Also, we anticipate that we will surpass last year’s first-year student enrollment of 1,614, and we could even see an entering class of 1,700 or more,” said Phil Cauley, WCU’s director of student recruitment and transitions.
The latest development to throw down a stake in Cullowhee intends to build a 488-bed student housing complex on a two-lane stretch of road across from the community garden and near the Tuckasegee River.
It’s a place where students can “thrive” while enjoying “a much more robust amenity package.”
Western Carolina University is sweating out the North Carolina General Assembly’s budgetary process, but perhaps not as much as some institutions of higher education.
Thirty campus leaders from Western Carolina University crisscrossed the mountains of Western North Carolina for a weeklong tour May 12-16 to learn more about the region that the university serves and to help strengthen relationships between WCU and its surrounding communities.
When the Campus Conservation Nationals Competition wrapped up this spring, Western Carolina University came out near the top of a nationwide field of 109 schools. Schools didn’t receive specific rankings, but WCU made the top 10 with a 13.7 percent reduction in its residential halls’ energy use over the three-week competition period.
“A common adage in the world of energy conservation is: Human energy change is low-hanging fruit, but the fruit grows back, so as we get new students in, we have to continue to improve our programs,” said Lauren Bishop, chief sustainability officer at WCU.
Don Kostelec stood in front of a flip pad in the cafeteria of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School. He asked for it all. Hold nothing back.
Alumni Tower is enjoying a late-semester afternoon on the Western Carolina University campus. Its clock keeps watch over students as they hustle between exams or toss a Frisbee on the grass.
A short walk from the tower, a fountain has attracted two sophomores and a puppy named Emma.
Western Carolina University will hold a trio of commencement ceremonies over a two-day period – Friday and Saturday, May 9-10 – to recognize the academic achievements of what is expected to be a record-breaking spring class.