Around the Quad

News on University Leadership, Events, and Milestones

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UNC Asheville Ranks Among the Best

UNC Asheville is featured in the 2018 edition of The Princeton Review’s “The Best 382 Colleges,” earning a spot on two of the top 20 lists, coming in at No. 18 for “Town-Gown Relations are Great” and No. 20 for “College City Gets High Marks.”

“The Princeton Review’s ranking of UNC Asheville is a testament to our close community partnerships and our mission as the state’s public liberal arts university,” said Chancellor Mary K. Grant. “Our university has grown and thrived with community support since our founding in 1927. As we celebrate our 90th Anniversary this year, we are proud to be known as Asheville’s university.”

The Princeton Review selected the 382 colleges and universities primarily based on academic strength, from more than 2,500 on which data are collected. The descriptions of each college in the guidebook are based on a survey of 137,000 students who provide candid assessments of their institutions. The students’ ratings of their schools are used to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The “College City Gets High Marks” list stems from students rating of the city where the school is located, and the “Town-Gown Relations Are Great” accolade comes from their answer to how students get along with the local community.

In addition, UNC Asheville has once again been named to The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges, also as a result of student surveys. The methodology for the green colleges lists combined school-reported data and student surveys; responses included student ratings of how sustainability issues influenced their education and life on campus; administration and student support for environmental awareness and conservation efforts; and the visibility and impact of student environmental groups.

90 Years

From Founders Day to Founders Week

Farm to Table on the Quad, September 2017UNC Asheville is celebrating 90 years in 2017-18, with Founders Day expanding to a full week and dishing up more treats than the usual cake.

The annual recognition of UNC Asheville founders made its way indoors to The Grotto due to rain, but the festivities continued with a photo booth, themed to Founders Day Celebrationcapture the present moment with a throwback to the past. The celebration continued through the week, honoring UNC Asheville’s core values of sustainability, innovation, and diversity and inclusion. The annual Farm-to-Table Dinner on the Quad was held on Sept. 14, and that same evening also started a two-day history symposium, “Zebulon B. Vance Reconsidered,” which brought Yale University Professor of History David Blight to speak on the timely topic.

Interim Leadership

Interim Chancellor Urgo and Acting Provost Peterson Announced

Interim Chancellor Joe UrgoUNC President Margaret Spellings has appointed UNC Asheville Provost Joe Urgo to serve as interim chancellor upon Chancellor Mary K. Grant’s departure at the end of the year. President Spellings’ decision comes with the unanimous and enthusiastic support of the entire UNC Asheville Board of Trustees.

“I’m thrilled that Provost Urgo will assume the role of interim chancellor at the end of the year,” said Spellings. “Dr. Urgo has partnered with Chancellor Grant to develop and lead innovative new endeavors over the past three years—in line with the University’s Strategic Plan. Ensuring the continuity of leadership during this time of transition is critical for UNC Asheville, and there’s no doubt that the institution will be in great hands.”

Acting Provost Karin PetersonKarin Peterson, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology, has been named as acting provost for the spring 2018 semester, following the appointment of Provost Urgo as interim chancellor.


App Brings Campus Events Straight to Students’ Fingertips

The name UNCA Now is meant to invoke action. As Fred Tugas, associate director for programming in Highsmith Student Union, explained, “we decided on UNCA Now because we wanted students to know that there are dozens of events happening right now that you can get connected with.”

From the user’s perspective, the app functions as an event calendar, showing every campus event for the next 30 days. From there, students can filter both by organization and tag. So, for example, if a student is interested in seeing all of the Mindfulness Club events in the next 30 days, they can with a single tap of the screen. Or, if a student’s just in it for the food, they can click the food tag and see any event with free food within the next 30 days.

Major Initiatives
New Programs Start in Fall 2017
UNC Asheville launched several new programs in fall 2017, adding a major and minor in Arts Management & Entrepreneurship, a minor in American Indian & Indigenous Studies, and undergraduate certificates in Contemplative Inquiry as well as Food, Food Systems & Culture.
“These new programs bring together the expertise of our faculty and the interests of our students, intersecting with Asheville’s unique history and momentum. They will provide students with an interdisciplinary foundation on which to build their careers, engage civically with the places they call home, and advance their knowledge and skills,” said UNC Asheville Provost Joe Urgo.

The portal also allows club administrators to access important assessment information regarding foot traffic and activity. When students swipe their OneCards at events, it gets uploaded to the UNCA Now software, and they can accumulate NowPoints, leading to prizes at an auction at the end of the semester.

That’s the functionality that the app developers, Presence, strive for. The small start-up based in St. Petersburg, Florida has partnered with Highsmith Student Union to bring the new technology to UNC Asheville’s campus.

When students swipe into events, that information is also automatically uploaded to what the university is calling a co-curricular transcript as well. According to Tugas, the co-curricular transcript, or CCT for short, “is an official university document that will be verified by our office as well as the university registrar to capture everything that a student does outside of the classroom.

“This really helps our students to show off not only their success in the classroom with an official academic transcript, but their success outside of the classroom as well with this co-curricular transcript,” said Tugas. “That is the true value of a liberal arts degree—that you are not only a good student, but you have an interdisciplinary understanding of the world and that you have leadership abilities and are able to create sustainable change after you graduate.”

Into the Woods

Major Productions for UNC Asheville Students

Students set the scene for UNC Asheville’s drama productions in the fall, selecting Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fairytale musical Into the Woods as the first production, presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI), followed by The Sunset Limited, a show exploring life, literature, existentialism, and hope.

“We then decided to use the first play as the theme for the entire year,” says Director and Professor of Drama Scott Walters. “So the first semester takes us into the woods—into the darkness to find one’s way—and the second semester brings us back out of the woods again.”

Meet Our New Directors

Lisa Tandan, UNC Asheville Career Center

Lisa TandanUNC Asheville welcomed Lisa Tandan to the role of Career Center director in October. The move gave her an opportunity to return to her home state, and to her liberal arts roots.

Tandan was first drawn to working in college career services as a graduate student at the College of William and Mary, where she earned a master’s degree in counseling. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

For more information about UNC Asheville's Career Center, visit

Mahmut Reyhanoglu, Joint UNC Asheville-NC State Engineering ProgramsMahmut Reyhanoglu

Mahmut Reyhanoglu has been named the new director of the joint UNC Asheville-NC State Engineering Programs, including the 2+2 program with two years on each campus, and the mechatronics engineering program where students study for all four years on UNC Asheville’s campus. He serves as the Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Engineering and teaches a capstone design course for seniors, a class that will make use of the university’s new STEAM Studio where he is also working to develop testing methods for quadcopter control systems, his specialty.

He earned his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from University of Michigan, and also has three master’s degrees covering electrical engineering (University of Michigan), aeronautical and astronautical engineering (The Ohio State University), and mechanical engineering (Istanbul Technical University). 

For more about UNC Asheville's Engineering Programs, visit

Luke Givens, Multicultural AffairsLuke Givens

Luke Givens has been selected as the director of multicultural affairs, joining the office in October. He previously served as retention and multicultural center coordinator at Portland Community College’s Cascade campus. He holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University, where he also holds a certification in servant-leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology and social control from Appalachian State University.

Find out about UNC Asheville's Multicultural Affairs, visit