News briefs from around Western Carolina University’s campus

WCU graduate human resources curriculum approved by national organization           

Western Carolina University’s master’s degree program in human resources has received a seal of approval from the primary professional association in that field.

Debra J. Cohen, chief knowledge officer for the Society for Human Resource Management, notified university officials recently that the program curriculum meets the standards of the organization. The approval period is effective through December 2013.

Students who enroll in WCU’s human resources program earn their master’s degrees after taking only 12 fully online courses. The next program application deadline is April 1.

WCU nursing grads post high pass rates on exams

Graduates of Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing have been posting high pass rates this year on national certification and licensure examinations. A report from the N.C. Board of Nursing indicates that 98 percent of graduates from WCU’s bachelor of science in nursing program have passed the National Council Licensure Examination, the standard licensure test for registered nurses, so far in 2010.

Fifty-five of 56 WCU students who took the NCLEX, as it is commonly called, passed it and earned their licenses, said Vincent Hall, director of the School of Nursing. That group included some students who finished their degree requirements in WCU’s traditional BSN program in May, and others who completed the accelerated BSN program in August.                       

Across North Carolina, graduates from 70 community colleges and four-year schools have taken the NCLEX in 2010, and only 10 schools matched or exceeded WCU’s pass rate. The pass rate for all graduates taking the examination in the state is 89 percent.                                               

Two other groups of WCU nursing graduates have recorded a 100 percent pass rate on their national certification examinations.             

All nine of the graduates from WCU’s master’s degree program in nurse anesthesia who took the Nurse Anesthesia Certification Examination in May and June passed it, said Shawn Collins, director of WCU’s program. Those graduates comprise the second group of nurse anesthesia students to complete WCU’s program, which started in 2007.

 Also, all 14 graduates from WCU’s family nurse practitioner master’s degree program passed their national certification examination in May and June, said Judy Neubrander, associate dean in WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences and associate director for graduate programs in the School of Nursing.

WCU Public Policy Institute launches N.C. politics blog

The Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University has created a new blog site designed to offer a nonpartisan glimpse into the world of North Carolina politics and policy.

The site, “Politics and Policy in the Tar Heel State,” features ongoing analysis and commentary about political issues, including early voting trends, predictions for the outcome of the November elections and the quirks of cell-phone polling.

The site is the brainchild of Chris Cooper, director of WCU’s PPI and associate professor of political science and public affairs, and Gibbs Knotts, head of the WCU department of political science and public affairs.

To read the PPI blog, visit


WCU communication professor earns national digital marketing certification

The Radio Advertising Bureau recently announced that Don Connelly, associate professor of communication and head of the Department of Communication at Western Carolina University, has earned certification in digital and interactive marketing.

The Radio Advertising Bureau is the sales and marketing arm of the radio industry, with more than 7,000 member radio stations, networks and radio sales organizations in the United States and abroad. Applicants for the RAB certification attend a series of online classes and seminars on topics including localized digital marketing research. At the end of the course, applicants must pass a national examination to receive certification as a digital marketing consultant. 

In addition to the digital marketing certification, Connelly is one of fewer than 50 certified radio marketing experts in the country and is the only university professor to ever be certified at the RAB’s highest level.

Tickets on sale Nov. 2 for annual WCU madrigal dinners

Tickets for the 2010 Madrigal Christmas Dinners at Western Carolina University are on sale. The dinners are re-creations of the pageantry, music and food of 16th-century England, with authentic madrigal entertainment and costumes. An annual event at WCU, they will be held this year at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center. The menu will include a choice of three entrees (including a vegetarian option), side dishes and beverages; tables seat eight apiece.

This will be the final year that Robert Holquist of the School of Music will take a lead role in organizing the dinners. Holquist, who has been active in the madrigal dinners since he joined the WCU faculty 1979, conducts the Early Music Ensemble, a chorus that performs at the dinners. This year marks the introduction of a new lord and lady, Boyd and Lynda Sossamon, owners of the Radio Shack in Sylva and Cashiers and both alumni of WCU.

Tickets for the dinners can be purchased in the University Center administrative offices (on the second floor of the U.C.) or by calling 828-227-7206 for credit card orders.