UNC Asheville Magazine Home

clearing the air feature story

Download Around the Quad (pdf)

around the quad

Work by Derryberry featured in national magazine

Virginia Derryberry

Art Professor and Department Chair Virginia Derryberry is a dynamo—whether she’s standing in front of a classroom full of students or in front of a canvas with a paintbrush.

As a professor, she’s known for her skills in guiding students to explore new artistic techniques and in mentoring them in creative undergraduate research projects. In fact, since joining the faculty in 1996, Derryberry has received a number of awards, including the university’s highest honor for faculty, the Distinguished Teaching Award.

She carries that same passion and dedication to the creative process into her studio, where she creates distinctive paintings that have been shown in solo exhibitions across the Southeast. Her works also have found their place in numerous corporate and private collections.


“Echo” is among the paintings by Derryberryfeatured in New American Paintings magazine

Now, her work has an even wider national audience and is being featured in the latest edition of the prestigious magazine New American Paintings. The magazine showcases several paintings from her most recent series entitled Rebis.

The paintings are saturated with deep, rich colors, and they incorporate dualism, mythological narratives and alchemical symbols. The striking paintings also are quite large. “They are actually bigger than I am,” laughed the petite artist, who stands at about five feet tall. “I like the feeling that I could walk into my paintings. It’s like creating a virtual world.”

Derryberry is currently at work on a new painting in the Rebis series that portrays the seven deadly sins. “Each one of the sins is represented by one of my students, who posed for the piece,” she said, smiling. “It’s a really complicated and really fun painting.”


Faculty excel beyond the classroom

Alice Weldon, associate professor of Spanish and codirector of Women’s Studies, has published an English translation of the Spanish language novel Departing at Dawn. The story traces one woman’s journey through Argentina’s war following the 1976 coup. One critic noted that it is “a remarkable translation ... which faithfully renders … a very poignant novel.”

Keya Maitra

Keya Maitra

Keya Maitra, associate professor of Philosophy, was among some 40 professors nationwide chosen to participate in a summer institute on “Infusing East Asian Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum” at the East- West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The three-week program was held in June 2009.

Mass Communication Lecturer Paul Dezendorf was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for teaching and research at the State University—Higher School of Economics in Moscow. This fall, he is teaching courses on local government, human resources and public relations for local governments.

Earlier this year, Deborah Miles, interim director of the Center for Diversity Education, was presented the Grace Lee Peace Award, which recognizes “unheralded sojourners who have advanced the cause of peace.” This prestigious Western North Carolina award is given to just two people annually.

Associate Professor of Drama Scott Walters was given an “Access to Excellence” award along with a $5,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Walters plans to use the funds to help create a new model for regional and community theaters in towns with populations of less than 100,000.

Philosophy Professor Gordon Wilson was one of just 10 scholars from around the world recently appointed as a Fellow at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. Wilson serves as coordinator of an international team of researchers that is producing the complete works of the medieval philosopher Henry of Ghent. Wilson will use his fellowship to research a forthcoming volume in this series.


us newsCommitment to teaching among best in nation

Winning accolades for academic quality is nothing new for UNC Asheville. The 2010 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” singled out 19 liberal arts colleges across the nation where “the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.” It’s no surprise that UNC Asheville made this list in a tie for the number 12 spot. In fact, UNC Asheville was the only public liberal arts college on the list.


Protecting the classroom is first priority as university faces budget challenges

Weathering the current economic storm has made for difficult decisions for businesses from Main Street to across the globe. For academic institutions, it’s been no different. But academe has been especially challenged to maintain quality educational offerings while streamlining operations to absorb budget reductions.


The Joint Engineering Program with NC State is one of the academic programs that continues to flourish. The program is led by Yusef Fahmy.

At UNC Asheville, protecting the classroom and every student’s campus experience has been at the center of all strategies developed to mitigate continuing budget woes.

Guided by a Strategic Plan and a set of budget priorities, the university has attempted to manage these challenging times. Some decisions have been difficult, but despite deep cuts outside the classroom, there are some hopeful signs. In fact, no faculty positions have been eliminated and seven new faculty will join the university this year. Many major projects begun during better economic periods continue to add value to the university’s stature, including the new N.C. Center for Health and Wellness, and the addition of state-of-the-art classrooms and labs in Zeis Hall.

Some decisions have been difficult, but despite deep cuts outside the classroom, there are some hopeful signs. In fact, no faculty positions have been eliminated and seven new faculty will join the university this year.

As the state struggled to maintain a balanced budget despite a $4 billion shortfall in revenues, UNC Asheville and its sister institutions felt the pain of backto- back budget cuts. By June 30, UNC Asheville had sent $2.9 million back to the state to help cover the shortfall. That amounted to about seven percent of the university’s budget.

While those cuts were difficult to absorb, all the news was not bad for UNC Asheville. On the plus side, the state legislature made a special $1 million allocation to UNC Asheville in recognition of its special mission as a public liberal arts university.

“We remain committed to strengthening the academic core, sustaining the student educational experience and fulfilling our public responsibility,” said Chancellor Anne Ponder. “That is where we are directing our funding.”

Chancellor Ponder, in a series of briefings to the campus community, has frequently used the priorities of the university’s Strategic Plan to explain the decisionmaking process as it relates to budgeting. “Our Strategic Plan provides the framework for meeting the pressing educational needs of North Carolina students and outlines the kind of university we will be,” she said.

Even with the priorities clearly defined, the reductions were painful. Since July, the university has eliminated 49 of its 500 staff positions, resulting in nine layoffs and 11 people being transferred to positions essential to academic and student services. The university’s comprehensive review of its organizational structure has prompted the reorganization of several administrative areas for better efficiencies.

As a result of a UNC system directive to review the effectiveness of all centers and institutes, two centers, the Environmental Quality Institute and the Mössbauer Effect Data Center, will be phased out by December 2009.

“These were not easy choices, but they are critical to our future,” said Chancellor Ponder. “Our students’ opportunities for learning, both inside and outside the classroom, remain exceptional. And when better economic times return, UNC Asheville will be ready to do even more.”


Gift of wetlands honors late professor

Rick Maas wetlands memorial

The memory of one of UNC Asheville’s most distinguished professors, Rick Maas, will be preserved in perpetuity, thanks to a generous donation of 25 acres of undeveloped land by Kitty and the late Ske Boniske. Located near The North Carolina Arboretum, the Rick Maas Memorial Wetlands will remain in its natural state as a site for student and faculty research.

For more than 18 years, Maas taught Environmental Studies to hundreds of UNC Asheville students. He died in 2005, at the age of 54, following a brief illness.

The wetlands were formally dedicated in a simple campus ceremony in September, where the memorial stone marking the entrance to the wetlands was unveiled.


Quad Quips

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

What is your favorite UNC Asheville tradition?

What electronic gadget do you want as a holiday gift?

Have you personally experienced or been affected by the state budget cuts happening on campus?

Ally Johnsn

Ally Johnson ’12 Political Science, Cary, N.C.

Tradition: I love hanging out on the Quad and in the ‘Botans’ (Botanical Gardens).

Gadget:I really have everything I need.

Budget cuts: I’m definitely not getting any paper handouts in my classes and one of my favorite adjunct professors is no longer teaching, but overall the impact has been minimal.

Alex Bryant

Alex Bryant ’11 Music Technology, Taylorsville, N.C.

Tradition: Basketball games, definitely. I go to almost all of the home games.

Gadget: A MacBook Pro.

Budget cuts: My federal financial aid was cut a lot.

Sarah Goldensstein

Sarah Goldenstein ’10 International Studies, Durham, N.C.

Tradition: I love our Alma Mater. I really do.

Gadget: I’m not really into tech gadgets—I sometimes even turn my cell phoneoff.

Budget cuts: In my major, quite a few programs, special events and speakers have been cut.

Nash Gilley

Nash Gilley ’12 Creative Writing, Wilmington, N.C.

Tradition: Playing music outside Mills (Residence Hall).

Gadget: I would love a Moog synthesizer.

Budget cuts: I haven’t noticed any changes.


New Web site launches in January

Visitors to the UNC Asheville Web site will soon see a brand new look and navigation scheme that will deliver more information about the university’s educational experience.

unca website

New features, interactive content, lively photographs and a user-friendly interface will give the university a more effective communication vehicle and one that reaches a worldwide audience.

Currently the UNC Asheville homepage receives more than 9,000 visitors per day, which means close to 3 million visitors every year. The current site has been largely unchanged since 2002.

The redesign project began last April when Chancellor Anne Ponder appointed a university-wide advisory team New Web site launches in January of about 40 faculty, students, staff and alumni. This team, led by Debbie Griffith, interim director of communications, has been working with a wellknown agency, Capstrat of Raleigh.

To read all the news on redesign developments and offer your comments, visit uncawebsiteblog.blogspot.com

The work has included examining the current site and its architecture and usage, reviewing best practices from other university Web sites, and soliciting input from the campus community as well as alumni and statewide audiences.

The primary goal of the Web site redesign is to create a site that embodies the culture and brand of UNC Asheville and sets it apart from other universities. Fresh and engaging content, easy navigation and the use of the latest interactive technology and multimedia will show the world the kind of university UNC Asheville is.

The new site also will create a sense of community, a sort of gathering spot for students, faculty and staff so that everyone is participating in telling UNC Asheville’s story.

By telling those stories on the Web site, the university will improve its ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest students and faculty, maintain strong relationships with alumni and friends, and NCCCR members Steve Rinsler (left) and Bob Davis. click it: For more information visit unca.edu/ncccr Prototypes of the new UNC Asheville Web site. Ben jamin Porte r build a broader understanding of leadership in liberal arts education. All those strategies will help achieve the objectives of the Strategic Plan.


Bulldogs chase tornadoes across the Great Plains

Atmospheric Science

Students watch an approaching severe thunderstorm in Texas.

Does chasing tornadoes and plotting the progress of major hailstorms sound like typical college activities? For junior Atmospheric Sciences major Aaron Woodward, tornado chasing was just part of a trip to the Great Plains last summer for a unique hands-on educational experience.

“You can look at pictures and TV screens, but it doesn’t compare to being there,” said Woodward in describing seeing a tornado touch down behind several grain silos. “It was awe-inspiring.”

For more information visit Christopher Godfrey's blog

Woodward has been fascinated with weather since he was four years old. Now, as a student at UNC Asheville, he’s gotten up-close and personal with some big-time weather action. Over the past two summers, he and about 10 other students have participated in Assistant Professor Christopher Godfrey’s “Severe Weather Field Experience” course. In 2008, the students chased two tornadoes and saw one touch down. This past summer there were not as many tornadoes so the students tracked severe hailstorms and thunderstorms to learn more about how weather patterns develop.

“You can look at pictures and TV screens, but it doesn’t compare to being there. It was awe-inspiring.”

—Atmospheric Sciences major Aaron Woodward ’11

In addition to chasing storms, the students visited television stations, private forecasting companies and government agencies, including the Storm Prediction Center that Woodward hopes to work for one day. Students also got tips from professionals on how to apply to graduate school and summer internships.

Says Professor Godfrey, “The career development aspect of the class helped students discover the varied career options in meteorology. I found that they return with a renewed enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard in the classroom. With professional goals in mind, the students really begin owning their education.”


Don’t just retire, rewire!


NCCCR members Steve Rinsler (left) and Bob Davis.

At UNC Asheville, learning doesn’t stop after graduation. Since 1988, older adults have taken classes at the nationally recognized North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement. This fall, those enrolled in the Center’s College for Seniors courses are studying energy dependence with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. Others are studying the challenge of contemporary pirates with a retired Navy lieutenant. And College of Seniors fitness enthusiasts have a former pro-football trainer guiding their efforts. There are about 90 other classes taught by experts in their fields.

For more information visit unca.edu/ncccr


Read more stories (back to contents)

Bookmark and Share