Western Carolina University Overview
Founded in 1889, Western Carolina University is one of 16 senior public institutions of The University of North Carolina. A comprehensive university offering a broad array of undergraduate and graduate programs, Western Carolina is recognized as a national leader in the application of computer technology in education.
Western attracts students from across North Carolina and the United States, and from around the world, yet the university holds a special sense of responsibility for the people of Western North Carolina. Teaching and learning constitute the central mission of Western. The university seeks to create a community of scholarship in which the activities of its members are consistent with the highest standards of knowledge and practice in their disciplines. As a major public resource for the region, the university assists individuals and agencies through the expertise of its students, faculty and staff.
The 265-acre campus is located in the community of Cullowhee, N.C., in a picturesque valley of the Tuckaseigee River between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountain ranges, 52 miles west of Asheville. The university lies close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and some of the nation's most beautiful national forest lands.
The university's academic structure is composed of four undergraduate colleges -- Applied Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education and Allied Professions -- and the Honors College and Graduate School. The Honors College, a community of high-achieving students, is the only one of its kind in North Carolina, with accepted students invited to live in one of two honors residences.
Undergraduate students who enroll at Western may choose from more than 120 majors and areas of concentration. Students interested in careers in engineering, law, medicine, dentistry optometry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy may enroll in pre-professional programs.
Through the Graduate School, the university offers graduate degree programs leading to the Master of Accountancy, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Sciences, Master of Physical Therapy, Master of Project Management, Master of Public Affairs, Master of School Administration, Master of Science, Master of Science in Nursing, the Education Specialist in Educational Leadership, and the Doctor of Education.
Western's rigorous academic program is led by a full-time faculty of about 335, providing a student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 for the student body of about 6,400 students. The university also operates resident-credit centers in Asheville and Cherokee. Through credit and noncredit instructional courses, continuing education offerings, and workshop, conference and service programs, the university serves nearly 12,000 people each year.
Western has the distinction of being the first fully networked campus in The University of North Carolina system, and has received widespread acclaim for being on the national cutting edge in the use of computer technology in education. In fall of 1998, WCU became the first public university in North Carolina, and one of the first six public universities nationwide, to require freshmen students to come to campus with personal computers.
Two computer ports in each residence hall room allow students to connect to the Internet and university computer system from the comfort of their rooms. The use of 10 multimedia electronic classrooms on campus puts WCU at the forefront of educational technology. Western was named one of the nation's 100 "most-wired" university campuses by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine in spring 2000.
Also, in spring of 2000, WCU was officially designated a National Merit sponsoring university, just the fourth institution of higher education in North Carolina, public or private, to receive that distinction.
Western's emphasis on involving undergraduate students in research is drawing national attention. The university has ranked in the nation's top 20 for three years in a row in the number of papers presented at the National Undergraduate Research Conference.
WCU faculty members and students participate in a wide range of service and research activity. The university's service centers add impetus to the programs of the colleges and departments and provide significant assistance to the region. Some of those centers include the Mountain Resource Center, which maintains a special emphasis on rural economic development; the Mountain Heritage Center, which collects, interprets and disseminates knowledge about the southern Appalachian region and its people; the Developmental Evaluation Center, which provides developmental evaluation, recommendations for services, treatment and guidance for children and their families in seven counties of Western North Carolina and the Cherokee Indian Reservation; the Mountain Aquaculture Research Center, which fosters biotechnologically based research to support the aquaculture industry in the region; and the Office for Rural Education, which helps rural elementary and secondary schools improve the quality of their programs.
Through the Division of Continuing Education and Summer School, the instructional resources of the university are made available to the people, businesses, industries, schools, organizations and agencies of the region and state. The division promotes and coordinates all noncredit and extension-credit courses and programs, as well as the university summer sessions and distance learning, and also provides assistance for all academic and supporting units of the university to extend their resources using a variety of telecommunications technologies. Distance learning resources include computer conferencing, video conferencing and correspondence courses.
Western Carolina's Hunter Library, the largest library in North Carolina west of Charlotte, contains more than 590,000 books and bound periodical volumes, over 100 online databases, 670 CD-ROMs, and one million units of microform. Approximately 3,000 serial subscriptions are received, and the annual addition rate of new materials is more than 26,000 items.
The focal point for many activities is the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center, which seats almost 8,000 people. The largest and most versatile facility of its kind in Western North Carolina, the Ramsey Center has a network of movable curtains and adaptable staging that allows it to convert from a full-scale arena to a large auditorium, or to more intimate areas for meetings.
You can visit the official web site of Western Carolina University at www.WCU.edu