Regional business leaders to share insights

Ten leaders from across Western North Carolina and beyond will share their personal perspectives on leadership with students in a Western Carolina University master’s degree program course in business administration this fall.

Representing a cross-section of public and private sectors, including business, health care, education, government and nonprofits, the leaders will serve as guest speakers in an MBA class titled “Leadership and Ethics” taught by Ed Wright, associate professor of global management and strategy.

The course will meet Thursday nights throughout the fall semester at WCU’s site at Biltmore Park, which opened last year.

A diverse array of guest speakers provides the MBA students with valuable insight into what makes a person an effective leader, Wright said.

“Having regional organizational leaders engage with our students adds a rich dose of pragmatism to the theoretical concepts taught in our graduate leadership class,” he said. “Students are exposed to diverse views and leadership styles, and they can adopt those practices that resonate with their own strengths and situations. We are greatly indebted to these speakers who take time out of their super busy schedules to give back a little of their wisdom to the next generation of leadership.”

The schedule of speakers for the fall semester:

Aug. 29 – Ron Paulus, CEO of Mission Health.

Sept. 5 – Dr. Jeff Heck, CEO of the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

Sept. 12 – Tony Baldwin, superintendent of Buncombe County Schools.

Sept. 19 – Neal Hanks, president of Beverly-Hanks and Associates.

Sept. 26 – David Gantt, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Oct. 3 – Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities.

Oct. 17 – Terry O’Keefe, business consultant and Asheville Citizen-Times columnist.

Oct. 24 – Louise McDonald, president of Herman Miller Healthcare.

Nov. 7 – Brooks Robinson, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

Nov. 14 – David Belcher, chancellor of Western Carolina University.

Talks will begin promptly at 6 p.m. and will last about 40 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period. The sessions are open to students from other graduate programs offered by WCU.

Western Carolina has offered a variety of courses in Asheville since 1937 and taught classes at various sites in Buncombe County until last fall, when the university consolidated those graduate and undergraduate programs to its new off-campus instructional site in Biltmore Park Town Square. The consolidation of academic offerings into one location was designed to expand access to university-level programming and better serve the educational needs of Western North Carolinians in the Buncombe-Henderson corridor, while also improving operational efficiencies.

The MBA leadership course is one of 85 being offered by WCU at Biltmore Park this fall.  Courses in three new programs have been added for the coming academic year: the master’s degree program in technology, the doctorate program in nursing practice and the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program, a partnership with community colleges that provides a four-year, seamless associate-to-baccalaureate nursing education.

In addition, the newly revived doctorate program in educational leadership resumed courses over the summer at Biltmore Park, with additional courses continuing into the fall semester.

An orientation session for newly admitted students taking WCU classes at Biltmore Park will be held Thursday, Aug. 15.  Classes begin Monday, Aug. 19.

Several programs are still accepting applications. For more information, contact Patsy Miller, director of WCU Programs at Biltmore Park, at 828-654-6498 or email

For information about the MBA leadership course or WCU’s MBA program, contact Kelly McIntyre, program manager, at 828-654-6533 or