Two graduates to present research in U.S. Senate

Two recent graduates of Western Carolina University will present their research papers in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the United States Senate on Friday, Oct. 21. The presentations are part of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honors Society’s Triennial International Convention.

John Taylor and Stephen Gassaway were selected from among a large number of researchers to present during the special event. Taylor and Gassaway will travel with four other WCU student delegates to the convention, held in Washington D.C., on Oct. 20-22. WCU was among the top three schools for number of students chosen to present in the Senate.

Taylor researched the terrorist organization Revolution Armed Forces of Columbia, also known as FARC, and will present his findings in the Senate. Taylor compiled military data from 1990-2003 and found that FARC posed a very real threat to

“One of the reasons I chose this group [to research] is, if you look at the number of incidents, this organization leads the way,” said Taylor. “What is even more frightening is that they have close ties to al-Qaida, they are heavily involved in the drug trade and have a seemingly endless supply of money.”

Taylor graduated from WCU in August with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He currently works as a detective for the Roanoke Rapids Police Department. Taylor returned to active duty in June after recovering from gunshot wounds he received during a traffic stop in late 2010.

Gassaway surveyed organizations and compiled the data to determine the level of sophistication of their project management. His paper, “Climbing the Ladder of Organizational Project Management Maturity,” evaluates organizations for their project management abilities and concludes that larger organizations have better project management capabilities.

“I wanted to see what was working and what wasn’t working for organizations and present that information,” said Gassaway, who graduated from WCU in August with a master’s degree in project management.

The Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in social sciences has nearly 340,000 members and is the largest academic group in the world. The triennial convention has been nearly three years in the making and marks the first time that students will present in the U.S Senate, said Gordon Mercer, international president of Pi Gamma Mu and professor emeritus of political science and public affairs atWesternCarolinaUniversity.

“We wanted to connect students with a key policy center,” Mercer said. “This event brings the voice of students from across the United States into the Senate.” Pi Gamma Mu worked closely with Sen. Ben Nelson fromNebraskato book the Kennedy Caucus Room.

For more information about Pi Gamma Mu or the triennial international convention, contact Mercer at or by telephone at 828-227-3863.