Around the Quad

Celebrating all things Asheville – from Commencement to the individuals who have served campus for many years.

Commencement celebrations

Graduates encouraged to make a difference

More than 500 graduates and their families gathered on the Quad on May 7 for the Spring Commencement ceremony and celebration. Among those honored were Commencement Speaker Virgil Smith, former publisher and president of the Asheville Citizen-Times, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; Julia Ray, centenarian and business leader, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; and John Cram, a local entrepreneur, who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.

Student speaker and 2015-16 Student Government Association President Maya Newlin encouraged her classmates to be the next generation of leaders. “I wanted us to remember that we are innovative, passionate, intelligent by far, curious, headstrong, and most of all seriously creative. We stare injustice in the face without fear but with confidence and a plan for action and change,” she said. “Go out and show the world your true blue colors. Live life for your happiness and give back to the communities that you are part of for their prosperity.”

The Bulldog Baseball team sported their blue the following weekend, after missing Commencement for an away game. Erik Connolly, Adam Spracklin, Parker Swindell, and Lucas Owens received their degrees May 14 during a home game.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Virgil Smith, a talented manager and publisher who led the Asheville Citizen-Times for a decade, served in multiple vice presidential roles with The Gannett Company, and now works as a certified life and career coach, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Julia Ray, a shining example of civic engagement to generations in our mountain home and a visionary volunteer, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters  degree in recognition of her professional achievements and her work as a community leader and role model.

John Cram, a central figure in the creation of Asheville’s arts economy, a community builder and sustainer, and a strong and tireless supporter of Asheville culture, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in recognition of his professional achievements and community service.

Leading with the Liberal Arts 

President Margaret Spellings shares thoughts from her visit to UNC Asheville as part of “Around the State in 100 Days” listening tour

“All day long at UNC Asheville, I met students who made a very deliberate decision to pursue a liberal arts education. They wanted close relationships with faculty, the freedom to explore a variety of different subjects, and the rigor and creativity that are at the core of the liberal arts tradition. They found all of that in UNC Asheville, a true gem for North Carolina and a unique institution within the world of public higher education. Since my first day on the job, I’ve been talking about the need to broaden college access to better prepare a changing nation. Nowhere is that democratization of higher education more striking than at a public liberal arts university, a place that offers the kind of curriculum that used to be the province of a privileged few.”—Margaret Spellings, UNC President

Cultivating STEM Research

$1.5 million grant in chemistry and biology 

Marilyn Foote-Hudson (left), executive director of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, talks with UNC Asheville senior and chemistry researcher Emily Lanier. The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation has awarded UNC Asheville a $1,577,718 grant to elevate undergraduate research through The Chemistry & Biology Fellows & Scholars Program. Announced on campus on April 7 during the 30th anniversary of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the grant will fund programs in medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical and molecular biology.

“The university has designed a win-win STEM component where scholars are mentored and supported by post-doctoral teaching and research fellows, with a unique model where they are also mentored by faculty advisors. It’s a great pipeline for success for females and under-represented minority science majors that continues to build low-income first generation students into successful fellows,” said Marilyn Foote-Hudson, executive director, North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.

“What we get to do here as an inspired group of students is learn from the best, what it means to be a scientist working on real-world problems,” said senior Emily Lanier. “I worked for three years now on new methods of synthesizing new antibiotics for the next generation of resistant bacterial infections. And less than a month ago, I was able to present my research at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego, Calif., alongside graduate and doctoral researchers in my field, which is an incredible opportunity.” Lanier, who puts 10-15 hours a week into her research, is excited that the grant will enable many more students to have opportunities funded for study and research.

The Chemistry & Biology Fellows & Scholars Program will fund students for up to four years, including research support for two years and two summers, and three years of conference travel. Students can receive a maximum of $39,000.

Post-doctoral teaching and research fellows will have two-year commitments and will be mentored by UNC Asheville faculty. The project team will include Herman Holt, associate professor of chemistry and department chair, Amanda Wolfe, assistant professor of chemistry, Ted Meigs, GlaxoSmithKline Distinguished Professor in Molecular & Chemical Biology, and Sarah Seaton, assistant professor of biology. Dean of Natural Sciences Keith Krumpe will serve as project director.

Faculty and Staff Retirees 2015-16
Thanks to our retiring employees for their many years of service to the university
Gwen Ashburn
Buffy Bagwell
Keith Bramlett
Lyudmila Buksh
Pat Catterfeld
Peter Caulfield
Virginia Derryberry
Gerry Donovan
Richard Glass
Terri Godleski
Archer Gravely
Joyce Hamilton
Lisa Honeycutt
Peter Kendrick
Holly Iglesias
Bruce Larson
Heon Lee
Dawn McCann
Brenda McKinney
Charles McKnight
Steve Metcalf
Merritt Moseley
Pat O’Cain
Keith Ray
Kitti Reynolds
Linda Rhymes
Pedro Sandin
Dot Sulock
Joe Sulock
Lisa Thickitt
Dennis Thompson
Glenna Trull
Alice Weldon
Bob Yearout

Faculty Awards 

Trey Adcock, assistant professor of education and director of American Indian outreach, received the Champion for Students Award. 

Sophie Mills, professor of classics, was named the winner of the 2015 Collegiate Teaching Award from the Society for Classical Studies.

Tiece Ruffin, assistant professor of education, is the fourth recipient of the UNC Asheville Community Connectors Award.

Lorena Russell, associate professor of English, received the Distinguished Teaching Award at UNC Asheville. 

Brent Skidmore, assistant professor of art, was named Asheville City Schools Foundation’s “Spirit of Service Champion.”

Sally Wasileski, associate professor of chemistry, received the 2016 Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Honoring Service to UNC Asheville

Whitesides Hall dedicated on Feb. 19

UNC Asheville dedicated Alfred J. Whitesides Jr. Hall on Feb. 19, 2016, after a public vote by the Board of Trustees. The academic building was previously known as New Hall.

Recognizing a Former Chancellor 

Chancellor Mary K. Grant welcomed former Chancellors Doug Orr (interim), Anne Ponder, and David Brown to campus in May 2016 to unveil Ponder’s portrait.