WESTERN ELECTED NEWEST MEMBER                                                                                                        

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University is the newest member of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium that leverages the scientific strength of major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies and private industries.

The ORAU Council of Sponsoring Institutions, at its annual meeting in March, elected Western as an associate member. Established in 1946, ORAU consists of 91 doctoral-granting institutions and 11 associate members. Members are found in 28 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom .

As a partner and contractor with the U.S. Department of Energy, ORAU operates the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) to provide operational capabilities and conduct research, education, and training in the areas of science and technology, national security, environmental safety, and health and environmental management. 

“Western Carolina University welcomes the opportunity to join Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Our faculty and staff are looking forward to collaborating with the eminent researchers and scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and with colleagues at member institutions,” said Western Chancellor John W. Bardo. “At Western, we are deeply committed to the process of engaging the university's resources to help solve economic problems and other difficulties our region and state are facing. The partnerships made possible though ORAU will enhance our ability to find solutions to those economic and social hardships.”

Tom McClure, director of regional affairs at Western, will be the university's official representative to ORAU.

“Students and faculty alike will benefit from our membership through access to a multitude of opportunities for study and research, such as international scientific symposiums, or graduate student and faculty fellowships that are sponsored by ORAU. Western looks forward to forging collaborative partnerships with our country's national laboratories and to pursuing major science initiatives in technology and the biological sciences,” McClure said.

“The selection of Western to join the ORAU consortium is confirmation of the growth of the university's stature in its graduate and research programs,” he said. “It is a testament to the significance of work that our engineering and technology department has been doing in the area of optoelectronics and rapid prototyping, and to the importance of our existing partnerships with research institutions in the Southeast and across the country.”

With a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through Oak Ridge National Laboratory, faculty and students from Western and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College are working on developing a new type of energy-efficient water heater. The project recently attracted the attention of President George W. Bush, who called the effort an example of the “creative technologies” the nation must utilize to decrease its dependence on foreign energy sources.

Western is a partner with Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Carolinas MicroOptics Triangle, a research alliance designed to develop fiber optic communication capacity. The university also is working with the University of Southern California and Stanford University on a U.S. Department of Defense-funded project seeking to bring high-speed fiber optic capacity to the consumer.

Maintained by the WCU Office of Public Relations
Last modified: Thursday, April 28, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University