by Sergio Ortiz | WCnewsmagaizne

Who ever said that Western graduates don’t make a difference? Well whoever did, they’ve never heard of Tracy Putnam Ray.

Ray is a WCU graduate, who now is a captain in the U. S. Air Force. Almost all of us saw or heard about Pfc. Jessica Lynch, but what some of you might not know is that Ray was the attending physician and head of the critical care air transport team that flew Lynch to Ramstein, Germany.

Ray has a sister named Ann Putnam Johnson, who happens to be the associate dean of Applied Sciences here at WCU. Johnson has been keeping in touch with her sister via email and telephone in the past weeks. “She’s just fine,” said Johnson. “She wanted to know if I had seen her on TV.”

Clovie Putnam of Waynesville, mother of Capt. Ray and Dr. Johnson, said that Ray was “very happy when they asked her to fly with Pfc. Lynch to Germany.” Putnam last saw her daughter shortly before Christmas when the family was able to spend a week together in Waynesville. Ray is stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Bakersfield, CA, where she lives with her husband, Jason, and children Emelyn, Amelia and Silas.

Dr. Johnson, also a graduate of Western, feels great pride towards her sister. “It’s hard to put into words what it means that someone from Haywood County who attended Western would end up on national TV. It just goes to show that Western’s graduates keep making a difference all around the world.”



Western Carolina University is now presenting an exhibition of photographs and paintings of African-American domestic workers in the South. The exhibit began April 15, and will run until May 10.

The exhibit, “Mammy…How I Love You,” will feature the paintings of Beverly McIver and the photographs of Ernie Button and will be displayed in the Chelsea Gallery of the A. K. Hinds University Center. It is part of the Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series for 2002-2003.

The project is based on videotaped interviews of African-American women who have been working for the same families for decades, having to balance raising their own families and the families of their white employers.

McIver painted portraits of herself in the roles of the women, and Button created black and white photographic portraits during the videotaped interviews.

McIver is a recent recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Radcliff Fellowship. McIver’s mother, Ethel, has been a domestic worker all her life and was the inspiration for the project. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information about the LCE Series, call (828) 227-7206.


WCU Named One of Twenty Undiscovered Gems by Eon Alden | WCnewsmagazine

An article featured in the Washington Post recently named Western Carolina Univesity as one of 20 colleges for promising high school students to consider as their choice over larger “brand name” schools.

The list was composed of schools from North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. High school counselors named the colleges that they felt deserved more of the limelight cast upon the better known schools in the nation. The counselors asked were impressed by WCU, the first university in the North Carolina system to require all students to own their own computers. Western’s wide use of television, Internet and other media technology has gained attention as well as respect.

Other North Carolina schools listed were: Elon University, Guilford College, Davidson College and St. Andrews Presbyterian College.