UNC board member calls Western “role model” for serving region’s needs

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University won rave reviews from a member of The University of North Carolina Board of Governors for recent efforts to assist Western North Carolina by providing its people with skills necessary for meaningful employment in the information age and by seeking to attract high-technology companies into the region.

“What Western is doing is a great role model for other universities to follow,” said board member Peter Hans of Raleigh. “The state of North Carolina needs its universities more now than it ever has before in its history.”

Hans said the UNC system must continue to play a role in the economic, social and cultural development of the citizens of the state, if North Carolina is to prosper.

He was among a group of eight incoming members of the UNC Board of Governors visiting Western on Tuesday, June 24, as part of an orientation tour that will take the new board members from Cullowhee in the west to Elizabeth City in the east.

Hans made his comments after a presentation by Western Chancellor John W. Bardo in which the Chancellor told new board members about Western’s efforts to serve as an engine for economic development for the westernmost counties of the state.

“The message we keep hearing over and over again from people in our communities is this: ‘I want my children to be able to stay in the mountains, get good jobs, raise their families, and not have to leave here to find work.’ If you go to Murphy, if you go to Wilson, if you go to Manteo, it’s the same message,” Bardo told the group.

“That’s why our focus at Western has been on engaging with our communities – finding out what the needs are, then moving to meet those needs,” he said. “Engaging with the people is what the UNC system is all about. It’s what Western Carolina University is all about.”

While on campus, new Board of Governors members enjoyed entertainment provided by Western’s Catamount Chamber Singers and toured the campus to see some of the major construction and renovation projects currently under way.

Bardo also shared with the board members a list of future facilities needs, including major expansion of space for teacher education, health sciences and hospitality management.

The orientation and tour proved to be a homecoming of sorts for at least one new member of the Board of Governors, Adelaide Key of Asheville, a former member of Western’s Board of Trustees.