Fine and Performing Arts celebrates 10 years with alumni weekend

Celebrating 10 years at Western Carolina University, the College of Fine and Performing Arts has many special activities planned, including an alumni weekend on Friday, Feb. 9, and Saturday, Feb. 10, to honor graduates in music, theater, film and visual arts.

Reunion activities will include a reception, a campus tour and a luncheon honoring alumni and faculty emeriti, along with concerts, films and exhibits.

“Come to Cullowhee and help us celebrate 10 years of inspiring art,” said George Brown, dean of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts. “This is an amazing opportunity to gather with friends and kindred spirits, perhaps rediscover the campus and be amazed by both the changes and our future plans.”

Early bird overnight accommodations are available at the Comfort Inn in Sylva. The offer is open by calling 828-477-4950 and asking for the special “CFPA Alumni Weekend” rate, with a reservation deadline of Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Friday highlights include:

  • Welcome Home Social 5-7 p.m. in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on Feb. 9, with burgers and beer.
  • Entertainment options beginning at 7:30 p.m. with theatrical performance of “J.B.” in Hoey Auditorium; WCU Wind Ensemble at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, “Shifting Gears” feature film screening in the University Center theater, or an alumni art exhibit in the Fine Art Museum of the Bardo Center.

Saturday highlights include:

  • Guided campus tour by bus, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Explore the Arts, 1:30-3 p.m. with the Best of Controlled Chaos Film Festival in the University Center theater, a trivia competition in University Center’s Illusions Club, paint your own ceramics at the Bardo Arts Center’s ceramics studio and join in a gamelan (tuned metal percussion instruments) music session with WCU music professor Will Peebles, no experience necessary.
  • “Shifting Gears” hosted screening of movie written by College of Fine and Performing Arts alumnus Keith Harris, 4 p.m.
  • Wine reception and light hors d’oeuvres at Illusions Club, 6 p.m.
  • Entertainment options beginning at 7:30 p.m. with “J.B.” at Hoey Auditorium, choral concert at the recital hall of the Coulter Building or alumni art exhibit in the Fine Art Museum.

As part of the alumni weekend activities, the college will honor several distinguished alumni and will recognize three retired faculty members with emeritus status. Included among the faculty emeriti being recognized are:

  • Robert A. Holquist, retired music professor and director of choral activities. During his 23-year tenure, he maintained an active schedule as a conductor, bass-baritone soloist and educator, and directed regional choral clinics in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
  • The late Alfred “Wig” Wiggins Sr., who died at age 80 in February 2017. A retired professor of fine arts, he founded WCU’s Black Theatre Ensemble, providing black students an opportunity to perform and share their history and culture. He was a 2001 recipient of the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence.
  • Joan Byrd, who taught ceramics and retired in 2014 after a 46-year career in the School of Art and Design. She and her husband, George Rector, now operate Caledonia Pottery in nearby Speedwell.

Among alumni being recognized are:

  • Garrett Wilson, recipient of the School of Art and Design Young Alumni Award. A 2014 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in interior design, Wilson is a designer at Young Office commercial design firm in Asheville and is serving as director of the regional International Interior Designers Association for Western North Carolina. He lives in Burnsville.
  • Nicholas Gattis, recipient of the School of Music Young Alumni Award. A 2010 graduate with a bachelor’s in music education, Gattis is a Charlotte middle school teacher and a National Geographic Teaching Fellow.
  • Tyler MacKenzie, the School of Stage and Screen’s Young Alumni Award recipient, is best known for starring in the Broadway smash “Hamilton.” A 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s in musical theater, he now lives in Brooklyn.

For more information and to register, visit the College of Fine and Performing Arts Alumni Weekend web page at or contact Ellen Wolter Perry at 828-227-2757 and