Around the Quad

News from the campus community, including awards, rankings and grants.


Gold Standard

First LEED® Certification for Campus

UNC Asheville staff, along with engineers and architects, celebrated the LEED Gold certification on Sept. 28.UNC Asheville’s Rhoades Hall, which was renovated during the summer of 2012 and is part of Rhoades Robinson Hall, has earned LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This certification is the first for the campus.

The renovations run deep, with geothermal wells added under the Quad to support heating, cooling and hot water, and a 10,000-gallon underground rainwater cistern that collects water for the building’s low-flow toilets. Energy-efficient windows and gypsum interior wall coverings complete the transformation, while the 2015 lighting upgrade using LED fixtures further illuminates the university’s dedication to green building. The result is a 35 percent reduction in energy use and a 40 percent reduction in water use compared to a typical classroom building of its size.

However, alumni will still recognize the familiar building. Approximately 50 percent of the façade was saved during the renovations. Now, it stands for sustainability on campus.

Rankings Round-up 

UNC Asheville maintained its ranking as the nation’s eighth best public liberal arts college in U.S. News & World Report’s new “2016 Best Colleges,” released in Sept. UNC Asheville also ranks 148 on the first tier of national liberal arts colleges list, public and private, up from 159 the previous year.

In July, the Fiske Guide to Colleges named UNC Asheville a “Best Buy” among the nation’s top colleges, and for the 12th consecutive year, UNC Asheville’s Environmental Studies Program was highlighted as showing unusual strength in preparing students for careers.

UNC Asheville is also featured in the 2016 edition of The Princeton Review’s The Best 380 Colleges.

Chemistry Scholars

National Science Foundation Funding Students and Solutions

The first full cohort of UNC Asheville chemistry majors in the Chemistry Scholars Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), graduated from UNC Asheville in the spring of 2015. The program, which began in 2011, provides scholarships and aims to increase academic success for UNC Asheville’s chemistry majors. Creation of the program and scholarship funds comes from two grants through the NSF’s Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, totaling over $1.2 million. The program will continue through the class of 2022. 

National Science Foundation recognition also has been awarded to UNC Asheville student Tammy Hawley for her research into “green chemistry” and “new chemistry.” She is one of only two undergraduate students in the nation to be named a 2015 National Science Foundation Scholar. Hawley’s research, The New Chemistry: Solutions for the 21st Century, explores an approach to using and teaching chemistry more holistically, and considers not only the final product of a chemistry process, but also the byproduct, long-term product effects and material and energy waste.

Fall Firsts

Largest Class Convenes for Move-in Day and Convocation

Move-in dayUNC Asheville opened the fall 2015 semester with the largest first-year class of approximately 750 students, up roughly 16 percent from fall 2014. The newest Bulldogs also include some 341 transfer students.

“We are excited to start the fall semester at UNC Asheville with our largest enrollment to date, to greet our new students, and to welcome back our returning Bulldogs,” said Chancellor Mary K. Grant. “We’re also welcoming 24 new full-time faculty who will join the ranks of UNC Asheville’s talented and accomplished scholars and teachers.”

The incoming class is more diverse, with an increase in African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students choosing to attend UNC Asheville. Students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will start their studies as part of an instructional credit agreement signed in the spring.

First-year student applications to UNC Asheville also increased 4.7 percent over the previous year.

“Our value is nationally recognized,” said Shannon Earle, senior director of admissions and financial aid. “Students look to UNC Asheville for a top-quality education, priced competitively for in-state and out-of-state students, and in the perfect place. We’re in an area of the country and of higher education that offers an opportunity for students to explore, to find their path, and to make an impact.”

Literary Legends

Writers Converge on Campus

Wiley Cash at the 2015 CommencementWiley Cash, UNC Asheville graduate and author of two best-selling novels, will return to his alma mater to teach courses and mentor students as writer-in-residence for the 2016-17 academic year. The 2015 commencement speaker also returned to campus as a Goodman Endowed Visiting Artist in 2013. 

Cash says he will use the writer-in-residence position to help introduce other high-profile authors to students and the community. “One aspect of the position I’m really excited about is the responsibility of organizing a reading series that will bring best-selling and award-winning poets and prose writers to campus,” said Cash. “I’m devoted to introducing students to successful authors who are talented, accessible, collegial and kind.”

The Goodman Endowment, along with the Department of Literature and Language, and the NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, brought Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg to campus in September. Bragg is the best-selling author of seven works of nonfiction, including four memoirs chronicling the history of his family in Alabama.

Granting Access

External Funding Expands Undergraduate Opportunities 

Funding Figures graphicRecent grants to UNC Asheville have offered opportunities for students—from as early as middle-school age—to explore college, gear up their studies, and pursue degrees and professions in the arts and sciences. 

UNC Asheville’s “Explore the Tour” pre-college readiness program for middle school students has received a grant for $19,644 from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC), to bring students from Madison, Rutherford, Swain and Yancey to campus for interactive learning activities and a tour, of course. During the 2014-15 academic year, 430 students from school districts covered by the CFWNC grant visited UNC Asheville as part of “Explore the Tour.” Some 800 students are already scheduled to participate during the coming fall semester.

Middle-school students from eight Western North Carolina counties learned what it takes to be a successful college student at UNC Asheville’s two-day GEAR UP summer enrichment program. The overnight program helped students from Alleghany, Clay, Graham, Madison, Rutherford, Swain, Wilkes and Yancey counties develop a college-going mindset through a sample of campus life. GEAR UP—Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs—is funded by grants from the U.S Department of Education. 

Additional support for ninth-grade students at Erwin High School, Asheville High School and Mountain Heritage High School has been made available through the AT&T funded Juntos Program at UNC Asheville. “Together” in Spanish, Juntos works to unite community partners to provide Latino students and their parents with knowledge, skills and resources to prevent youth from dropping out and to encourage families to work together to gain access to college. 

“UNC Asheville pursues funding for projects that give more students access to a pre-eminent public liberal arts education and that deepens the learning experience for students who enroll,” said UNC Asheville Provost Joe Urgo of the outreach programs. Those students who enroll also have access to scholarships and other support, from the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) for Higher Education program and the CORE Scholarship for transfer students from A-B Tech. 

With a recent grant from the National Science Foundation, UNC Asheville has created the Atmospheric and Computer Science Exploratory Scholars (ACES) scholarship program, modeled on the successful Chemistry Scholars program. Funding from Riverside Technologies, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce,  Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites and others administered by the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center at UNC Asheville also supports undergraduate research. In addition UNC Asheville will expand its Mechatronics Program this year, thanks in part to a $400,000 grant from Duke Energy, which will fund new equipment for a design and development studio that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Plus, an expanded partnership with the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and a $180,000 grant from the Windgate Foundation will fund Black Mountain College Legacy Fellowships and Research Internships—bringing visiting artists and scholars to campus and supporting undergraduate research.