Jan 27, 2023  
ARCHIVED 2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
ARCHIVED 2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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History of The University of North Carolina

In North Carolina, all the public educational institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees are part of The University of North Carolina. Western Carolina University is one of the sixteen constituent institutions of the multi-campus state university.

The University of North Carolina, chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1789, was the first public university in the United States to open its doors and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century. The first class was admitted in Chapel Hill in 1795. For the next 136 years, the only campus of The University of North Carolina was at Chapel Hill.

In 1877, the North Carolina General Assembly began sponsoring additional institutions of higher education, diverse in origin and purpose. Five were historically black institutions, and another was founded to educate Native Americans. Several were created to prepare teachers for the public schools. Others had a technological emphasis. One is a training school for performing artists.

In 1931, the North Carolina General Assembly redefined The University of North Carolina to include three state-supported institutions: the campus at Chapel Hill (now the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University at Raleigh), and Woman’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). The new multi-campus university operated with one board of trustees and one president. By 1969, three additional campuses had joined the university through legislative action: the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

In 1971, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation bringing into the University of North Carolina the state’s ten remaining public senior institutions, each of which had until then been legally separate: Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina Central University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, Pembroke State University, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University. This action created the current sixteen-campus university. In 1985, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a residential high school for gifted students, was declared an affiliated school of the university; and in 1996, Pembroke State University was renamed The University of North Carolina at Pembroke through legislative action.

The UNC Board of Governors is the policy-making body legally charged with the general determination, control, supervision, management, and governance of all affairs of the constituent institutions. It elects the president, who administers the university. The thirtytwo voting members of the Board of Governors are elected by the North Carolina General Assembly for four-year terms. Former board chairmen and board members who are former governors of North Carolina may continue to serve for limited periods as non-voting members emeriti. The president of the UNC Association of Student Governments, or that student’s designee, is also a non-voting member.

Each of the sixteen constituent institutions is headed by a chancellor, who is chosen by the Board of Governors on the president’s nomination and is responsible to the president. Each institution has a board of trustees, consisting of eight members elected by the Board of Governors, four appointed by the governor, and the president of the student body, who serves ex officio. The North Carolina School of the Arts has two additional ex officio members. Each board of trustees holds extensive powers over academic and other operations of its institution on delegation from the Board of Governors.

Board of Governors

W. Louis Bissette, Jr., Chair

Roger Aiken, Vice Chair

Joan Templeton Perry, M.D., Secretary

Darrell Allison

Pearl Burris-Floyd

C. Phillip Byers

Walter Davenport

Madeline Finnegan

Hannah D. Gage

Thom Goolsby

H. Frank Grainger

Henry W. Hinton

James L. Holmes, Jr.

Joe Knott

W. Marty Kotis, III

Scott Lampe

Steven B. Long

Joan G. MacNeill

Ann Maxwell

J. Alex Mitchell

W.G. Champion Mitchell

Anna Spangle Nelson

R. Doyle Parrish

Therence O. Pickett

David M. Powers

Robert S. Rippy

O. Temple Sloan III

Harry Leo Smith, Jr.

J. Craig Souza

George A. Sywassink

William Webb

Laura I. Wiley

Michael Williford

Officers of the University of North Carolina

Margaret Spellings



Meredith Didier


Chief of Staff

Junius Gonzales


Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kevin Howell


Senior Vice President for External Affairs

Andrew P. Kelly


Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy

Jonathan Pruitt


Senior Vice President for Finance and Budget

Tom Shanahan


Senior Vice President Governance, Legal, and Risk and General Counsel



Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University was founded in August 1889 as a semi-public school. Chartered as Cullowhee High School in 1891, it served the Cullowhee community and boarding students from neighboring counties and other states.

For Professor Robert Lee Madison, the institution’s founder, the aim of the school was teacher training. In 1893, with the first state appropriation of $1,500, a normal department was established. In 1905, the institution became Cullowhee Normal and Industrial School, a title it held for twenty years.

Beginning about 1912, the status of the school was gradually raised to that of a two-year normal school or junior college. With state support increasing and work at the secondary level discontinued, the name of the school was changed in 1925 to Cullowhee State Normal School.

In 1929, under a new charter authorizing the school to extend its work to the four-year level, the name Western Carolina Teachers College was adopted. Modifications in function and rapid growth climaxed in 1951 with the addition of the postgraduate year to the curriculum, and the granting of the Master of Arts in Education degree was authorized. Demands in the liberal arts, and for programs in other areas of learning, led to an expansion of its offerings and to a further change, in 1953, to the name Western Carolina College.

In 1967, the institution was designated a regional university by the North Carolina General Assembly and the name of the institution was changed to Western Carolina University.

In 1971, the state legislature reorganized higher education in North Carolina, and on July 1, 1972, Western Carolina University became a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina.

In 1996, Western Carolina University was approved by the University of North Carolina-General Administration and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer the Doctoral degree in education.

Board of Trustees

Ed Broadwell, Jr., Chair

Patricia Kaemmerling, Vice Chair

Carolyn Coward, Secretary

Grace Battle

Phil Drake

Joyce Dugan

Thomas Fetzer

Gaither Keener

J. Bryant Kinney

John Lupoli

Kenny Messer

Wardell Townsend, Jr.

Katherine Spalding (SGA President)


Administrative Officers

Office of the Chancellor

David O. Belcher, D.M.A.



Melissa Canady Wargo, Ph.D.


Chief of Staff

Chancellor’s Executive Council    

Alison Morrison-Shetlar, Ph.D.


Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Shea Browning, J.D.


 Associate Legal Counsel

Mike Byers, M.B.A.


Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance

H. Sam Miller, Ph.D.


Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Craig A. Fowler, M.B.A.


Chief Information Officer

Lisa Gaetano, B.S.


Internal Auditor

Lori Lewis, M.Ed.