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$3 million boost to N.C. Center for Health & Wellness

Center for Health and Wellness

Celebrating the grant (L–R): Chancellor Anne Ponder, UNC Asheville trustee Cissie Stevens and Kathy Higgins, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation

The challenges of childhood obesity, healthy aging and workplace wellness are top concerns for the state’s 9 million residents, and now—thanks to a $3 million grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation—UNC Asheville is poised to address these challenges through the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness at UNC Asheville.

“It is incredibly gratifying for our N.C. Center for Health & Wellness to be recognized by a foundation known widely for its commitment to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians,” Chancellor Anne Ponder said May 12, 2009, at a gathering to announce the grant. It is the largest ever awarded by the foundation’s Healthy Active Communities focus area and one of the largest in UNC Asheville history.

“Our center’s groundbreaking work, already under way, will now be able to progress even further in the three areas critical to North Carolina—childhood obesity, workplace wellness and healthy aging.”

Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation, said the center will serve as a resource for all of North Carolina. “We are delighted to be able to invest in this innovative program that holds such promise for our state,” she said. “The objective with our Healthy Active Communities is to invest in programs that increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating for North Carolinians. We understand the significance of preventive health and feel the work of the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness is a perfect match.”

The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness will be the hub for educating the next generation of health and wellness professionals, conducting interdisciplinary research and connecting the findings to community agencies, said Director Keith Ray. The grant funds will be used to expand programs and equip the building, expected to open in 2011.


Making intergenerational connections
Wellness Activities for Seniors in Asheville promotes fitness, socialization

Health and Wellness Department Chair Kathie C. Garbe and the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement have teamed up to bring an award-winning wellness program for older adults to campus.

Wellness Activities for Seniors in Asheville, or W.A.S.A., pairs senior citizens with UNC Asheville students who provide a tailor-made health and fitness regimen. “They work one on one, so a very important aspect of the program is intergenerational socialization,” said Associate Director Jade Frank ’08 (Health & Wellness Promotion).

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For information on the Wellness Activities for Seniors program, contact Kathie Garbe


kgarbe@unca.edu or

Jade Frank



Diverse in race, ethnicity, education and socio-economic background, W.A.S.A. participants range in age from 50 to 90 and come from across Buncombe and Henderson counties, including Weaverville, Woodfin and Asheville, from Vanderbilt Apartments to Deerfield Retirement Community. Students, in majors such as Psychology, Sociology and Health and Wellness Promotion, participate in this significant service-learning opportunity that dovetails with the university’s strategic goals of health promotion and community service.

“Seniors and students make connections that go beyond the program,” Frank said. “When a student found out the senior she worked with was in the hospital, she went to visit.”

By the Numbers

78 current life expectancy

12% U.S. household population 65 and older

85+ fastest growing age group

84,000 people over 100 in the U.S., according to 2007 Census Bureau figures

“We really enjoy the students,” Burke said. “We get to know them and invite them for dinner. One student invited us to her wedding this June.” Brown, a triathlete, and Burke, a runner, have improved their times, flexibility and athleticism through W.A.S.A. “They helped us, and in turn we hope we’ve had an impact on them,” he said.

Now in its second year, W.A.S.A. meets for six weeks, once a week, for two hours in the campus Health and Fitness Center where pairs use facilities to exercise and socialize. They may join recreational games and fitness, yoga and Pilates classes. Or they might take strength training, cardiovascular endurance and aquatics sessions, all under the watchful eyes of student Directors Alli Stapleton ’09 and Misty Garren ’09. They hear from local guest speakers on living well and stay current on aging and fitness research.


Seniors participate in water aerobics as part of their WASA workout.

“I think it’s important for aging folks to stay busy and active,” participant Diane Chambers said. “I look forward to seeing my assigned student each week.”

“The hands-on experience benefits students,” Garbe said. A faculty member since 2005, she received Bremen Professorship funding in 2008–2010 to implement the program. “We want to increase student involvement campuswide so we can increase the number of senior citizens we serve.”

Students conduct research through pre- and post-fitness testing to determine the program’s overall effectiveness in improving the flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance of older adults.

Senior participants’ individual health and wellness plans often incorporate campus walks to exhibits and events. “Our students enjoy sharing UNC Asheville with the community,” Frank said.


Commencement honors 612 graduates
Doc Watson and Les Purce receive honorary degrees

An impromptu performance by legendary musician Doc Watson highlighted the 81st Commencement ceremony May 16, when 612 graduates received diplomas.

Watson and Evergreen State College President Thomas L. Purce received honorary doctor of humane letters degrees. In his Commencement address, Purce urged graduates to make a lifelong commitment to education and community service. “It is not the intention of this university to graduate citizens into the world who think that their only reason for getting an education is to increase their personal income,” he said. “Personal income is important but so is creating a world community that recognizes the intrinsic importance of every human being on the globe.”

Les Purce, Chancellor Ponder and Doc Watson

Honorary degree recipients Les Purce, president of Evergreen State College in Washington (left) and commencement speaker, and legendary musician Doc Watson (right) with Chancellor Anne Ponder.

Chancellor Ponder closed the ceremony on the University Quadrangle with a reminder: “Graduates, as you leave here today and go into the world, I know that you will remember fondly your Alma Mater. May you be assured in the knowledge that the University of North Carolina at Asheville is behind you all the way.”

Commencement 2009 ushered in two traditions, the ringing of the Alumni Bell and flying of a new UNC Asheville flag. The Alumni Bell tolled at the beginning of Commencement, greeting new graduates assembled on the Quad. A gift of alumni and friends of the university, the bell will be rung at Convocations,

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Watch Commencement slideshow


Commencements and other official occasions of celebration and remembrance. The official UNC Asheville flag, designed by students and raised for the first time on Commencement weekend, flies with the American and North Carolina flags on the Quad.


Two 2009 Fulbright Awards bring UNC Asheville’s impressive list to 34 in as many years

Megan Miller and Emily Zucchino

Fulbright Scholars in the Class of 2009 Megan Miller (left) and Emily Zucchino

The Class of 2009 has many impressive bragging points, including two Fulbright Scholars in the same year. These outstanding students will use the prestigious awards for postgraduate study and travel in Korea and England. Classics major Megan Miller will continue her studies at Oxford University (England), where she also has received the prestigious Pearson Prize for graduate study. Political Science and Sociology double major Emily Zucchino will teach English in Korea on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA).

Their achievements bring UNC Asheville’s tally of Fulbrights to 34 since 1973. A robust mentoring program, led by Political Science associate professor Linda Cornett, helps identify candidates early in their UNC Asheville years and guide them through the application process.

Before winning the Fulbright Award, Miller, of Tryon, learned she had won the $27,000 Lionel Pearson Prize to pursue a doctorate in classical languages and literature at Oxford University, besting four finalists from Ivy League schools. A first-generation college graduate, she attributes her love of classics to a Latin teacher at Polk County High School who piqued her interest in the subject, and to UNC Asheville faculty mentors who provided undergraduate research opportunities.

Miller, who also won the Manly Wright valedictory award for highest academic achievement, believes that extraordinary opportunities provided her with a solid background that most Classics undergraduates would envy. She has attended professional meetings and workshops in Latin paleography (the analysis of handwritten manuscripts), presented research at high-level conferences and received funding for summer Undergraduate Research.

Zucchino, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, knew she wanted an international experience after graduation. “The Fulbright ETA grant in South Korea stood out to me because of the age of the children I would be teaching, the opportunity to stay with a Korean family rather than live in a dorm, and get involved in a community,” Zucchino says. “I hope to lay a foundation for learning English language that the children can keep with them after I am gone.”


Student, Faculty and Staff Kudos

Students Win Top Honors at Commencement

Jewel Gist

Jewel Gist

Nick Ladd

Nick Ladd

Three graduates were presented with the university’s highest student awards: Megan Miller (Classics), received the Manly E. Wright Award as the student first in scholarship; Nicholas Ladd was awarded the William and Ida Friday Award for Community Service; and Jewell Gist received the A.C. Reynolds Award and Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Leadership and Campus Service.

Miller, of Tryon, graduated summa cum laude with distinction in Classics and as a University Research Scholar, earning grants for her work in Latin paleography. She also received a Fulbright Award and Pearson Fellowship to study classical languages and literature at Oxford University (England) next year. Ladd, of Asheville, was Student Government Association president and an advocate for sustainability. A double major in Environmental Studies and Philosophy, he will enter medical school this fall. Asheville native Gist worked tirelessly to help create UNC Asheville’s Intercultural Center, home to student organizations as well as the offices of Multicultural Student Programs and the Center for Diversity Education. She also participated in pre-orientation programming for new students and helped coordinate multicultural heritage month activities.

Faculty Teaching Awards Announced

Tim Forrest

Timothy Forrest

Biology professor Timothy Forrest won the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. Forrest specializes in the behavioral ecology and evolution of acoustic and bioluminescent communication. He is known as passionate about his subject and ready to make the extra effort to help students succeed. One student said, “He is always available to help, always responsive to my interests, always unflinchingly honest about the quality of my work, and he has shown me an example of the working diligence and passionate spirit of a gifted scientist, which is what I aspire to be.”

Sam Kaplan

Sam Kaplan

Associate Professor of Mathematics Sam Kaplan received the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. Kaplan created Asheville Initiative in Mathematics (AIM), a program that connects the Mathematics Department with regional teachers and community members through grants totaling $925,000. He is at work on several projects, including a tutor-training program and an annual Math Literacy Summit. “I hope my activities inspire students to view math as a fun and important endeavor,” Kaplan said. “I have learned that teaching is about providing experiences that help them grow as scholars, master material and build a positive perspective on the craft of mathematics.”

Distinguished Staff Member Named

John Meyers

John Meyers

John Meyers, instructional technology consultant in the Center for Teaching and Learning, was named Distinguished Staff Member. Meyers, was instrumental in moving the university to a more flexible and cost-effective online course support tool.

Economics Professor Receives Prize

Pam Nickless

Pamela Nickless

Pamela Nickless, Economics professor, won the 2008-09 Jonathan Hughes Prize for superior teaching from the Economic History Association. An economic historian at UNC Asheville since 1983, she receives high marks from students for her ability to explain complex terms in simple language. An inspiration to her students, she’s known for keeping up with the news and incorporating the latest data into her classes. Nickless checks daily for Federal Reserve activity, Treasury bill rates and commercial paper rates, and articles by economists she trusts. “It’s a lot more work, but it allows me to be innovative and current in my teaching.”

“The economy runs on expectations, and the anatomy of a panic is when people behave in ways that slow the economy.”

The award-winning economist thinks positive. “Will we be OK? That’s a question I hear a lot from current students and former students,” Nickless says of the economic crisis. “With the right policies in place, the economy could turn the corner in a year.”

She’s optimistic that the stimulus package, though not a quick fix, will begin to provide relief for Americans. “The economy runs on expectations, and the anatomy of a panic is when people behave in ways that slow the economy. When banks don’t loan, people can’t buy. When people think things are going to get better, they generally do."

“I think we’ve got a few months of decline, but economic growth (GNP) can turn around fast. Job growth will take longer. We’re probably looking at unemployment hitting a high in late 2009.”

Organization Moves Headquarters to Campus with Professor Spellman as Director

Bill Spellman

William Spellman

History professor William Spellman is the first full-time executive director of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), now headquartered at UNC Asheville. The consortium of 25 undergraduate U.S. and Canadian institutions promotes public liberal arts education nationwide. UNC Asheville was a co-founder of the organization in 1986.

“The selection of UNC Asheville as COPLAC host campus affirms our long-standing leadership role in the national conversation about the value of liberal arts and science education in American society,” Spellman said.

It also dovetails with the strategic plan, which calls for such a leadership role in public liberal arts education nationwide, he noted.

Spellman plans to raise the national profile of public liberal arts universities, expand summer study-away opportunities for students at COPLAC schools, create an electronic undergraduate research journal, and initiate regional undergraduate research conferences. “The important benefits of a liberal arts and sciences education in American society should not be the exclusive preserve of private institutions,” Spellman said. “COPLAC campuses like UNC Asheville champion the importance of close faculty-student interaction, small class size and community building. The vision of COPLAC is to democratize the liberal arts experience, bringing it within the financial reach of all citizens.”

Five Black Faculty Members Honored for 25 Years

Donning of the Stoles ceremony

A special Donning of the Stoles ceremony in February honored five African American faculty members with 25 or more years at UNC Asheville. They are (L–R): Charles James, associate professor of chemistry; Dee James, professor of literature; Anita White-Carter, associate professor of library science; Dolly Mullen, associate professor of political science; and Dwight Mullen, professor of political science. The stoles, made of kente-cloth, are worn at Commencement to honor graduates of color.


“Eco-clamshells” help Dining Services go totally trayless to save energy, money

What's for dinner?

Ally Johnson

Vanessa Schon ’11 of Monroe, N.C., fills her eco-clamshell in the Dining Hall.

Many healthy options (for all meals) offered by Dining Services contribute to UNC Asheville’s emphasis on health and wellness, according to nutritionist Janet Zusi of Chartwells Dining Services.

*No-fried Fridays

*Nutrition facts and ingredients listed on all dishes

*Whole wheat pizza dough

*Two variations of hummus daily on salad bar

*Rice and beans daily for vegans

*Frequent low-fat desserts

*Steamed fat-free vegetables

*Reduced sodium content

*No trans fats

*Soymilk available daily

Don’t expect to load up your tray in the Dining Hall. Instead, grab a plate or an “eco-clamshell” and choose from some new healthy options.

The cafeteria has gone trayless to save energy and money. By cutting down on tray washing, Dining Services can save more than 71,000 gallons of water per school year, director Danny Dawkins said. And the reusable, recyclable “eco-clamshell” to-go boxes are eliminating 10,000 pounds of waste from the landfill per year.

The Student Environmental Club and Student Government Association collaborated with Dining Services on the initiative, helping introduce Trayless Thursdays last fall. “It’s gone over very well,” Dawkins said.

Students fill their plates instead of trays, resulting in less food wasted. Or they get a reusable eco-clamshell at the register with a $5 deposit, payable with OneCard, cash or credit card to cover damage or replacement. “Students bring their eco-clamshell boxes when they want to take a meal out, and exchange it each time for a clean, sanitized box, ” Dawkins said.

About 1,600 eco-clamshells are in circulation. Dawkins’ goal is to eliminate all disposables from the Dining Hall by 2010. “Students, faculty and staff have supported our initiatives, and we’re excited to help support UNC Asheville’s sustainability efforts,” he said.


Book Buyback Program a good deal for students and the university

Book Buyback

UNC Asheville is leading the way in the University of North Carolina system in saving students money on textbooks through the Guaranteed Buyback Program, which allows students to sell their textbooks at the end of the semester for half of the purchase price.

After UNC General Administration required campuses to institute cost-saving measures, Director of Auxiliary Services David Perkins and Bookstore Manager Lane Brown established the guaranteed buyback program. It has been a model of best practices for 11 other UNC bookstores. (Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Elizabeth City State universities have long-standing rental programs.)

“We did a lot of research, and we didn’t exactly originate the program but we customized it for the UNC system,” Perkins said.

The program depends on departments and faculty agreeing to use the same books for two to three years. At the end of a semester, the bookstore buys back those books and others that professors ordered—for half the purchase price. This includes new and used books in resalable condition.

“The buyback program is a win-win for students and the bookstore, because the students save money and the bookstore can cover its operating costs.”

“We’re No. 1 in the UNC system in terms of lowest net cost to students, and that’s pretty amazing since we’re one of the smallest universities in the system,” Perkins said. The lowest net cost on new books at UNC Asheville was $687.25 (spring 2008), compared to the highest in the system at $959.39 and our closest competitor at $724.55, he noted. The net cost is calculated by taking the average selling price of the books for a period of two semesters and then subtracting the amount the student receives at the end of each semester’s buybacks.

UNC Asheville also leads in percentage of used books sold. The national average for used-book sales is 27 percent, and UNC Asheville’s average is 45 percent. Other buyback schools in the system posted percentages ranging from a high of 40 to a low of 15. “The buyback program is a win-win for students and the bookstore, because the students save money and the bookstore can cover its operating costs—all the while continuing to support scholarships and contributing funds for the UNC Asheville Administrative fee which aids the university in many ways,” Perkins said.


New live mascot Rocky I wows campus

Rocky 1

Ed Johnson ’98, keeper of Rocky I, who gets attention from trustee Janice Brumit and husband Joe Brumit at Honorands event May 15.

He’s tenacious, strong and courageous—and now “rescued” can be added to his list of traits.

The university’s first live mascot in 20 years, Rocky I was discovered in a Humane Society shelter in Alabama, spent time in a Georgia foster home, and was located by a UNC Asheville committee trying to revive the live mascot tradition. Alumni and dog lovers Alexis ’97 and Ed ’98 Johnson, spearheaded the search.

“When I met Rocky, I knew that he was the dog for UNC Asheville.”

“He was extremely gregarious and friendly, and he absolutely thrives on attention, so it was clear he’d be a perfect mascot,” said Ed Johnson, a lecturer in the Math Department. Last November he and Alexis met Rocky I, a 2-year old white Victorian bulldog with black spots, to see if he was indeed mascot material. Immediately they knew they had found Rocky I. “Rocky actually has eaten my homework, although he prefers leather chews and homemade roast beef treats.”

Victorian bulldogs, a new breed resembling 18th- and 19th-century bulldogs, are taller than English bulldogs, with broad faces, large heads, wide chests and short, smooth coats. They’re affectionate and athletic. “When I met Rocky, I knew that he was the dog for UNC Asheville,” said Kevan Frazier, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations.

Rocky I made his exuberant debut on campus at Homecoming Feb. 21. Cheered on by a sold-out crowd at the Coastal Carolina game (UNC Asheville 74, Coastal 63), Rocky I took center court with Chancellor Anne Ponder before circling Justice Gym with Alexis. “I was so excited to meet him and wasn’t disappointed,” said Mary Craver ’09 (Accounting and Management) of Lexington. “Rocky’s energy is great, he’s athletic, and he brings the mascot personality to life. Now the bulldog isn’t just a symbol.”

Rocky I is more than an athletics booster. He welcomed guests to the Honorands Evening on May 15 and greeted faculty and graduates as they marched onto the Quad for Commencement on May 16.

Since coming home to Asheville, Rocky I has made national headlines, from a small-town daily in Alabama to the Washington, D.C.-based Chronicle of Higher Education.


Like bees to honey, Bug Camp attracts students from across N.C.

Taylor Drake and Taylor Foy

Recent Bug Campers Taylor Drake of Candler (left) and Taylor Foy of Asheville.

Most middle-schoolers couldn’t identify a horned passalus, a tobacco hornworm or a club tailed dragon hunter. But after Bug Camp at UNC Asheville, that’s a piece of cake.

Now in its fifth year, Bug Camp at UNC Asheville draws students from across the state like bees to honey. Thanks to a $250,000 grant from Burroughs Wellcome Fund over the last five years, 40 students each summer can explore the world of insects for one week, tuition-free. Campers go on day and night insect-collecting trips and learn to identify, curate and experiment with insects. “By the time they return home, we hope their attitudes about science have changed,” said Biology professor Tim Forrest, who founded and co-directs the camp with lecturer Herb Pomfrey. “We want these students to get excited about biology, to take science classes in high school, and to consider careers in the sciences.”

The camp encourages girls and minority students to apply. To recruit, Forrest e-mails area science teachers. Last year 40 students from 16 schools in seven counties were accepted, and more than half were minorities. They work in the lab and in the field with the latest equipment, such as a portable data acquisition computer, which allows them to gather and analyze data in real time.

Is the camp achieving its purpose of directing more young people toward careers in science? Exit surveys show the camp is having an impact. Last year 91 percent of students said they were more interested in science because of Bug Camp.


What to do on those lazy (or rainy) days of summer? Pick up a book

Our Education Department faculty members who specialize in elementary education have some rainy-day reading suggestions to keep youngsters occupied this summer. Check out these titles.

For young readers:

For readers ages 9–12


Quad Quips

We asked the following questions of students on the Quad, and here’s how they answered:

Where do you expect to be in five years?

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen?

Louise Thompson

Louise Thompson ’12 (undecided)
Dunn, NC

5 Years: Teaching art in my old high school.

Book: Forever, a novel by Pete Hammill. It’s about this guy who lives forever in New York City.

Advice: Make sure you have a planner with plenty of room to write in. It will be your best friend—especially if you’re really busy!

Derek Strong

Derek Strong ’10 (Economics) Concord, NC

5 Years: Grad school in Economics. I’m interested in alternative approaches to economics, and I’d like to push qualitative approaches. I’m particularly interested in ethics and how to design economic systems that promote human well-being and that also consider other life forms.

Book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma because it was a fun and easy read and covered an incredibly important issue, agriculture. The book details the problems we face but is optimistic about the future of healthy eating and food production.

Advice: Definitely try to get involved in a student organization. It helps you out academically and keeps you motivated.

Tara lancaster

Tara Lancaster ’12 (Art with Education licensure) Pfafftown, N.C.

5 Years: Teaching in North Carolina, preferably art in a middle school. I’m in the Teaching Fellows program, and art is something I’m passionate about. I like to learn, and I want to pass that on to my students.

Book: A play called “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” by Tom Stoppard. It’s based on Hamlet, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, yet it has a comedic and existential perspective. It's witty and thought provoking.

Advice: Don’t take 8 o’clock classes!


Governor Convenes Economic Roundtable at UNC Asheville

Governor PerdueN.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue made UNC Asheville her first stop on a spring tour of Western North Carolina, convening the Western Leaders’ Economic Roundtable on March 12 in Highsmith University Union. Panelists included (L–R): UNC Asheville Board of Trustees Chair Al Whitesides, Gov. Perdue, Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll (former executive director of AdvantageWest in Asheville) and UNC Asheville Economics professor Chris Bell. Western North Carolina city council members, county commissioners and business leaders discussed the downturn in travel and tourism, the “green” economy, the military economy and the biotech industry, with Bell providing an overview.

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