CULLOWHEE – Western North Carolina's potential business leaders of tomorrow picked up some tricks of the trade this summer from some of the region's most successful business leaders of today, thanks to a graduate class offered through Western Carolina University's Programs in Asheville.

“Leadership Practice and Development (Management 693),” part of Western's master's degree program in business administration, featured a roster of guest speakers that reads like a “Who's Who in the Western North Carolina Business World,” from banking executives to the chief executive officers of the region's medical and educational institutions.

The class is designed to give students in the MBA program insight into what it takes to become a leader in the business sector, from those who have risen through the ranks, said Beverly Little, associate professor of management at Western.

Speakers for the summer course included K. Ray Bailey, president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College; Phil Walker, senior vice president for the WNC region for BB&T; Steve Woody, retired CEO of Mills Manufacturing; Bob Burgin, president and CEO of Mission Hospitals; John Bardo, chancellor of Western Carolina University; Virgil Smith, president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times; Betty Huskins, vice president of public affairs and corporate development for AdvantageWest; Terri Helmlinger Ratcliff, executive director of the Industrial Extension Service of N.C. State University; and Rebekah Lowe, WNC regional president for Wachovia Bank.

Students in the course say they appreciated the opportunity to hear firsthand from successful leaders in the corporate and public sectors.

“It was very encouraging that all the leaders who spoke to us were from Western North Carolina. It gives me hope that I will be able to achieve my leadership vision here in the place where I grew up,” said Will Neeriemer, a certified public accountant from Weaverville who is pursing his MBA while working as audit manager for the accounting firm of Dixon-Hughes.

“The interview format of the class provided excellent real-world examples of what leadership is all about,” said Mike Stewart, president of JM Steward Properties Inc. in Jackson County. “Whether you're already a leader, an aspiring leader, or just want to learn more about the topic of leadership, taking this class will not only provide you with some valuable lessons about leadership and other leaders, it will teach you something about yourself.”

Evelyn Green of Franklin agreed. “Not only did we delve into the definition of leadership, we also delved into individual leaders' lives to see what it meant to them,” said Green, a quality assurance official at Drake Enterprises in Franklin. “On top of that, we examined our own lives as they related to leadership and what it means in terms of our own aspirations and abilities.”

The course will be offered again during the 2005 summer term. It is among several graduate-level leadership classes offered by Western in several disciplines – education, health sciences, human resources, nursing and public affairs.  This fall, courses titled “The Teacher Leader,” “Community College – Higher Education Leadership,” “School-Based Curriculum and Instruction Leadership,” “Leadership Professional Learning” and “Leadership in Human Resources” will taught evenings by Western in Asheville. 

For more information about WCU Programs in Asheville, call (828) 251-6642.

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Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Western Carolina University