Chancellor Bardo visits South Caldwell High School.
Western Chancellor John W. Bardo shares a laugh with students during his recent visit to South Caldwell High School.

CULLOWHEE - “What can Western do for you?” That was the question Western Carolina University Chancellor John W. Bardo asked the leaders of industry, local government, and education during his recent visit to North Carolina’s Burke, Caldwell, and McDowell counties.

In a region hard hit by business layoffs and closings, the question prompted a series of conversations about partnerships, technical assistance, career-focused studies, student internships and co-ops, distance education, on-line learning and more. There was agreement that it is important for Western to provide a strong college education and to help attract employment opportunities for young people who want to study, live and work within the western part of the state.

“It is Western’s mission to educate the students of North Carolina while helping to meet the needs of our region,” Dr. Bardo said. “We want to be the cultural, social, economic and environmental engine of development for Western North Carolina.”

In his discussions with students and guidance counselors at East Burke High, Freedom High, McDowell High, and South Caldwell, the Chancellor emphasized Western’s commitment to providing new programs while increasing academic standards. He also described a new emphasis, which begins during student orientation, on what Western graduates can do in the “new” economy with the degrees they earn in Cullowhee or in cooperation with local community colleges.

Among the new programs Western is offering are construction management, forensic science, electrical engineering (in 2004), computer engineering (in 2005), commercial music production, entrepreneurship, athletic training, telecommunications, and emergency management. At the same time, Dr. Bardo said, Western continues its tradition of excellence in nursing, teacher education, the arts, and more.

“If you want to study where there are small class sizes, personal attention for every student, and a challenging curriculum, consider Western Carolina University,” he urged, and he invited students to visit the campus to decide whether they’d fit in at Cullowhee. (For information on Open House schedules and registration, go to

The Chancellor’s series of regional Round Table discussions continues with a meeting in Catawba County, scheduled for November 20.

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Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2014 | Originally published: Friday, October 24, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Western Carolina University