Jan. 20 luncheon in Asheville to feature acclaimed author, natural resource steward

The first program of 2010 in an ongoing luncheon series designed to highlight Western Carolina University’s people and programs will feature a critically acclaimed author and an advocate of environmentally sensitive forestry who has helped Western North Carolina towns manage their watersheds.

Western Carolina faculty members Ron Rash, author of the novel “Serena,” and Peter Bates, associate professor of natural resource conservation and management, will discuss their recent work during a Wednesday, Jan. 20, program showcasing WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences as part of the Greater Asheville Luncheon Series.

Rash, who holds the Parris Distinguished Professorship in Appalachian Culture at WCU, will read from his work and will discuss the richness and complexity of the mountain dialect. Following the luncheon, he will be available to sign copies of his books, which include “The World Made Straight,” “One Foot in Eden” and “Saints at the River.” His most recent, “Serena,” has been a critics’ favorite and has made many “best books of the year” lists.

Bates will discuss how he and his students have assisted WNC municipal leaders with the long-term management of their towns’ watersheds. Bates and his students have conducted inventories of forest resources in WNC watersheds to help officials determine if forest management activities within the watersheds could be ecologically and economically viable.

The Greater Asheville Luncheon Series is held at the new Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park on the third Wednesday of every month. Each event in the series highlights a college, program or initiative. Deans, faculty, staff and students are the primary presenters at each luncheon, which begin at 11:45 a.m. with a gathering and reception, followed at noon with a buffet lunch. Programs begin at 12:15 p.m. and adjourn at 12:45 p.m. Lunch cost is $10.50.

The schedule for the remainder of the year includes presentations by College of Business, Feb. 17; Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, March 17; department of athletics, April 21; Mountain Heritage Center, May 19; and College of Education and Allied Professions, July 21.

The series is sponsored by the Dixon-Hughes accounting firm, WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, and the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park. For more information, visit alumni.wcu.edu, or contact Marty Ramsey by telephone at 828-227-7335 or toll-free at 877-440-9990, or via e-mail at mramsey@wcu.edu.