Question.) When did you graduate from WCU and in what subject area?
Answer.) Summer 1987 with Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
Q.) Why did you choose to attend Western Carolina?
I wanted to attend college in the mountains after growing up in the Piedmont (Winston-Salem). Photography was a hobby of mine throughout high school and I was offered an opportunity to work as a student photographer for the Western Carolinian which sealed the deal.
Q.) What are some of your fondest memories of your days at WCU?
Meeting Tammy and dating her throughout our college days. We have now been married
Being an active member of the Baptist Student Union. I also enjoyed doing photography for the school newspaper and yearbook, Sports Information, Public Information, and many other student organizations.
Q.) Who was your favorite professor at Western Carolina and why?
I had several professors who were very helpful during my student years. Ralph Willis, Jim Nicholl, Jim Lewis were very good teachers who truly strive to help each student succeed. Jim Rowell, who was the assistant director in Public Information, had a huge impact on my life and provided huge support while I was a student.
Q.) Mark, as WCU’s primary photographer through four decades, you have seen and covered an incredible amount of history at WCU. I know it is difficult, but if you had to pick one university event or moment that stands out above all others, what would it be?
This is impossible to single out one event, but I can probably provide a few of the highlights. Being able to photograph the 1983 football team as we played for the national championship, photographing the near upset of the number one seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the 1996 NCAA basketball tournament, photographing the POTM marching band in the Rose Bowl Parade in 2011, photographing the one year memorial of 9-11 around the Alumni Tower in 2002, serving on the Mountain Heritage Day Committee and having the opportunity to work and photograph thousands of very talented faculty, staff, coaches, and students over the past four decades.
Q.) Mark, your wife Tammy, is a WCU alumna who also recently retired from WCU. Tell us a little bit about her, your family, and how the two of you met.
Tammy and I met each other at the Baptist Student Union in the fall semester of our first year. Our first date was at Speedy’s Pizza and we dated throughout college before our wedding in 1985. Tammy took a position in Continuing Education while I continued my academics and working for Public Information until my graduation in 1987. I was offered the full time position of university photographer by Doug Reed and Jim Rowell while finishing my degree in summer of 87 and started full time in August of that year. I served in that role until December 2013 when I was named Director of Photography and Videography Services. I have worked out of the very same office in HFR for my entire career.
Tammy worked for 32 years at WCU before retiring in September 2017. Tammy worked in Continuing Education as Elderhostel Coordinator before moving to Alumni Affairs as Director of Alumni Affairs in 2000. Tammy finished her career as Director of Orientation Programs from 2003 through 2017. We feel very blessed to have been given these tremendous opportunities to work at a place we love and have called home for our entire lives together.
We have two daughters, Brittany and Emily, who both earned their degrees from WCU. Brittany works for RK & K Construction Company and lives in Asheville, NC. Emily works in the Undergraduate Admission office of WCU and lives in Sylva, NC with her husband Aaron and their 14 month old son Bryant.
Q.) Now tell us something unique and interesting about yourself few people may know.
I love music. I had the opportunity to sing with a bluegrass gospel quartet (Ambassadors) that began as students at the Baptist Student Union in 1984. We sang for over 20 years including several years at Mountain Heritage Day. I am very involved with music at my church (East Sylva Baptist Church) where I sing with the adult choir and direct the children’s choir.