HISTORY SEMINAR ROOM AT WCU NAMED                                                                                             
IN HONOR OF FORMER HIGHLANDS COUPLE

Image: Enid and Curtis Meltzer (left) and Max Williams, professor emeritus of history.
Former Highlands residents Enid and Curtis Meltzer listen as Max Williams, professor emeritus of history at Western, speaks in a seminar room in McKee Building recently dedicated to the Meltzers in recognition of their contributions to the university.

CULLOWHEE – A classroom in Western Carolina University's historic McKee Building has been transformed into a modern seminar room, thanks to contributions to the department of history from Dr. Curtis and Enid Meltzer, formerly of Highlands.

A recent ceremony dedicating the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Seminar Room is just the latest episode in a long-lasting relationship between the university and Dr. Meltzer, a Florida radiologist who moved to Highlands upon his retirement in the mid-1980s and began taking courses at Western to broaden his horizons.

The Meltzers have contributed nearly $60,000 over the years to Western's College of Arts and Sciences, including $10,000 to the department of history and $10,000 to the Max and Sarah Williams Scholarship Fund.

“Great universities don't just happen. Great universities happen because we are able to draw together wonderful students who are willing to learn and wonderful faculty who are willing to teach and extend knowledge,” Western Chancellor John W. Bardo said in dedicating the seminar room in honor of the Meltzers. “A margin of that excellence comes from people beyond the campus who care enough to give of their time, talent and resources to help the university move forward.”

James Lewis, chairman of the history department, pointed out that the seminar room, located in a recently refurbished classroom building that was originally built in 1939, combines elements of the traditional and the modern classroom.

“This room reflects both the old McKee, with its chalkboards and erasers, and the new McKee, with all the electronic gadgets and whistles that our younger faculty members use,” Lewis said. “While learning can take place anywhere, sometimes you need a room that just invites it. This room simply invites learning.”

Max Williams, professor emeritus of history who taught many of the history classes that Dr. Meltzer took over the years, called the Meltzers “real friends of the university.”

“The Meltzers are the type of people who, when they go into a community, improve that community by virtue of their very presence,” Williams said. “Dr. Meltzer has an urge for lifelong learning that sets him apart from most other people.”

The Meltzers' passion for learning was again evident when they listened to Williams deliver a guest lecture titled “Impact of the Civil War on Slavery in Eastern North Carolina: A Case Study” at the conclusion of the dedication ceremony.

Dr. Meltzer helped establish the successful Highlands Lecture Series, which places Western faculty members in Highlands for lectures on a wide variety of topics. He has called the university “a gem in the mountains.”

“We have great affection for this university. We have been enriched by our association with you, and we are grateful for that,” he told the faculty and staff on hand for the dedication ceremony. “When I retired, I realized that I knew a great deal about radiology, but not much about anything else. We are grateful to you for opening up new avenues of information and new avenues of thought.”

Meltzer said that, during his time taking classes at the university, he was struck by the struggle of some of his younger classmates in juggling work, home and class responsibilities. That's why he decided to begin making contributions to Western.

“It is you, the faculty and staff of this university, who deserve to be honored,” he said. “You deserve to be honored for your lifetime commitment to helping the students learn, for helping them become better citizens, and for making us a stronger country and a better people.”


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Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University