WCU Trustees add members, discuss growth issues

This story was originally published in The Sylva Herald.

Changes for WCU Board of Trustees

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees will have four new members beginning July 1.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors appointed Haden Boliek of Fayetteville and Robert Roberts of Asheville to four-year terms. They replace current trustee Phil Drake of Franklin and Chairman Ed Broadwell of Asheville. The two men complete their terms this month.

Boliek earned her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders at WCU. Roberts is a member of WCU’s Board of Visitors. He is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill.

In Broadwell, “I am losing the last trustee who had a role as a trustee in the search process that brought Susan (his wife) and I to Cullowhee six years ago,” Chancellor David Belcher said. “He’s brought absolute commitment to WCU, its goals, its people and most importantly, its students.”

Drake doesn’t speak much, but when he does, people listen, Trustee Kenny Messer said, during a June 2 board meeting.

“On behalf of the board trustees and this university, thank you for your fine service for what you have done and what you’ll continue to do in the future,” Messer told Drake.

Current trustees Carolyn Coward of Asheville and Tom Fetzer of Wilmington have been appointed to the UNC Board of Governors. Tim Haskett of Kings Mountain and Rebecca Schlosser of Greensboro will take their place on the board of trustees.

Haskett is a Sylva native. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in business administration at WCU. Schlosser received her bachelor’s degree in education at WCU, and she has served on the WCU Board of Visitors and Foundation Board.

The Board of Governors reappointed current trustees Gaither Keener and Kenny Messer to four-year terms.

The board consists of 13 members, eight elected by the UNC Board of Governors, four appointed by the General Assembly and the university’s Student Government Association president.

The new SGA president, Katherine Spalding, was sworn in during the same June 2 meeting.

The new trustees and reappointees will be sworn in at the board’s Sept. 15 meeting.


WCU increases freshmen retention … slightly

The WCU Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs and Personnel Committee discussed retention rates and GPA performance information for first-time, full-time freshmen at their June 1 committee meeting.
WCU Director of Student Recruitment and Transitions Phil Cauley shared the information on behalf of Lowell Davis, assistant vice chancellor for student success.

There were 1,913 freshmen in fall of 2016, compared to 1,624 in 2015. The proportion change caused by the 289-student increase accounts for some of the drastic increases from the 2015-16 school year to the 2016-17 year.

The freshman retention rate from fall to spring was 91.37 percent, compared to 91.01 percent last year.

“The area you would want to watch and be concerned with is the percentage of students who were below a 2.0 GPA,” Cauley said. “In fall of 2015, that number was 7 percent, and it did go up to 10.6 percent this past fall.”

The number of freshmen who were academically dismissed in the spring semester increased compared to the previous year.


Residence hall design approved

The WCU Board of Trustees endorsed the proposed design concept for the 600-bed residence hall planned for the upper section of campus.

The residence hall will be located on a parking area between Judaculla Hall (formerly Central Drive Hall) and Brown Hall.

The approved design is a five-story building with two wings. The original plan, approved in 2014, called for additions and renovations to existing Buchanan Residence Hall.

Matt Ketchum, WCU’s director of facilities planning, design and construction, told trustees the project will be built on the flattest land available in that part of campus.

“The residence hall project will enable us to maximize our bed count,” Ketchum said. “This will allow us to keep Buchanan open for an additional length of time while we are building this new, 600-bed facility.” Buchanan currently has about 180 beds.

The new hall is expected to be ready for occupancy by the 2019 fall semester, he said. At that point, the university will determine whether to renovate Buchanan Hall or demolish it.

WCU is currently authorized by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to spend $48 million on the residence hall project on upper campus. The trustees approved Vannoy Construction of Asheville at their meeting last December.

Rendering of WCU’s new upper-campus dorm, to be built on what is now a parking area.


WCU finishes SACSCOC renewal process

WCU’s year-long reaccreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is finally complete.

Although the decision won’t be final until December, the university met compliance in all core and federal standards.

The process, renewed every 10 years, requires the university to meet SACSCOC standards to be able to confer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and receive and distribute federal financial aid funds. WCU has been accredited by SACSCOC since 1946.

“It’s been a long year,” Provost Allison Morrison-Shetlar said. “I want to commend Arthur Salido, who was the faculty driver of this initiative and worked with all units across campus to assure our success.”

WCU developed and submitted a compliance certification report, which documented how the university meets core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal requirements; and a Quality Enhancement Plan, which details how WCU will enhance quality in the future. A SACSCOC review team visited campus during the spring semester.

“Overall, it was a phenomenal visit and a phenomenal outcome,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “As always, we have a few things to work on, and we will certainly do that.”