During his recent visit to Asheville and Buncombe County, Western Carolina Chancellor John Bardo talked with high school students about their college plans and told community leaders and county government officials about Western’s effort to promote economic development throughout the region.
The day full of meetings was a continuation of the chancellor’s outreach to schools, local government, industry and business in Western North Carolina.
At Asheville High School, Bardo talked about the need for students to feel comfortable at whatever college they select. “Visit several places to get a feel for each campus,” he urged, “and be sure you’re comfortable at the one you choose because that’s where you’ll be spending three or four of the most important years of your life.”
He explained that Western encourages new students to pick their majors very early in their college careers, even though they may later change their choices more than once. “Studies show that students who declare their majors are more likely to stay and graduate,” he said.
Later in the day, Bardo talked with community leaders about economic development and job growth. Universities can adapt their research and curricula as they work with industry and small businesses to help meet the needs of the region, even crossing state boundaries when necessary, if the legal and fiscal climate makes that possible, he said.
He outlined Western’s focus in a number of areas such as teacher education, health care, engineering, entrepreneurship, biotechnology, tourism and hospitality management, commercial music and more. And he said Western is exploring opportunities for assisting nearby metropolitan areas in the event of a major emergency or terrorist attack.
As part of his visit to Buncombe County, the Chancellor toured Sonopress, a German-owned company located in Weaverville. The plant, which is guarded by a sophisticated security system, replicates CDs and DVDs from content provided by clients such as Microsoft, video game producers, and various recording artists. About 750 people work on the production line at Sonopress, which has plans to expand this year.
The next Chancellor’s Regional Roundtable is scheduled for May 19 in Jackson County, followed by May 21 in Cherokee.