Dozens of community leaders joined Western Carolina University Chancellor John W. Bardo and university faculty and staff for recent roundtable discussions in Hendersonville (June 12) and Murphy (June 13). “Western is making a significant effort to reposition itself as an engaged university,” the chancellor said, “and that means looking for ways to define problems and find solutions in cooperation with the communities we serve.”
After briefing the groups on the progress of major construction projects currently under way at Western’s Cullowhee campus, the chancellor described the university’s success in boosting the coming fall’s enrollment to record levels, recruiting entering freshmen with higher-than-ever average SAT scores, offering new programs such as electrical engineering, and continuing to focus on teacher education, nursing education, and entrepreneurship programs for small businesses.
Dr. Bardo also stressed the importance of enhancing the university’s connections with community colleges where local students can take traditional classes or distance education courses from Western faculty without commuting to Cullowhee. “Our goal is to support economic development and the quality of life in Western North Carolina,” he said, “and to make it possible for local young people to get a good education and find good jobs close to home.”
The roundtable discussions in Hendersonville and Murphy are the first in a series of conversations that will be held during the coming months with community leaders in the multi-county area served by Western.