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Rimes to assume director position for public affairs master's program

Heather Rimes has been named director of Western Carolina University’s master of public affairs degree program, effective July 1.

Heather Rimes

She will succeed Jay Gerlach, who has held the position since 2015. Gerlach will return to a faculty position with the program.


“Our program has experienced exceptional development during Dr. Gerlach’s tenure as MPA director, and I am enthusiastic about assuming the director role and continuing to support our upward trajectory,” said Rimes. “I’m honored to help equip public and nonprofit leaders to serve in Western North Carolina and elsewhere.”


Rimes holds a doctorate from the University of Georgia, a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of South Alabama and her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech. Her instructional focus is in public administration and public policy.


WCU’s MPA program prepares town managers, directors of nonprofit organizations, professors, police officers and other professionals committed to public service. Many courses can be taken during evening hours at the Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville; some are offered at the Cullowhee campus and online.


“Heather Rimes is unequivocally the right person for the job,” Gerlach said. “We are excited to build on the program’s success with more than 38 years of service to Western North Carolina.”


For information about the program or its new director, go to or contact Rimes at

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