Jerry Lea Cole and Elizabeth Long Cole of Eatonton, Ga., have honored William E. Niven with the establishment of a fully endowed scholarship at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching. Niven retired in 1981 as superintendent of Lexington City Schools having served also as teacher, coach, principal and associate superintendent. He lives in Lexington with his wife, Georgia.


B. Neil Wilson, inspired by factual accounts from a Salisbury prison, recently published a work of historical fiction, “Victims of Conscience: A Prison Guard’s Story.”

Gordon E. “Gordie” Howell has retired after serving 44 years as an administrator and faculty member at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. While at Rollins, Howell, who held the Raymond W. Greene Endowed Chair of Health and Physical Education, earned master’s and doctoral degrees in the sociology of sport and sport management. He served more than 11 years as director of intercollegiate athletics and chair of the Department of Physical Education, where he taught courses related to the social significance of sports. “My greatest love has been working with students,” he said. Howell, who played Catamount football, coached men’s varsity soccer for 15 years, earning nine invitations to NCAA postseason play. He is a member of the Rollins College Athletics Hall of Fame for athletic administration and the Sunshine State Conference Sports Hall of Fame for coaching. He and wife LaVerne “Jackie” Smith have a daughter and granddaughter and maintain a home in Graham County.


Martha Powell, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa since 1997, has won the university’s Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor Award, presented annually to a UA faculty member judged to have made extraordinary contributions that reflect credit on the individual, his or her field of study, students and the university. Since 1998, Powell has been awarded $4.9 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to strengthen undergraduate education in the sciences. Her “great and caring” professors at WCU “made me want to be a scientist and an educator to pass the joy of learning on,” said Powell, who earned her doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue University.

“Diary of Faust,” a play by Ludy Wilkie, was produced in October at Crest High School in Cleveland County.


Jamie E. Kirby self-published a novel titled “In Search of Sanctuary,” the story of three young adults in 19th century New York recovering from the events of a single day.

John Wilson retired after serving as executive director of the National Education Association for 11 years. Wilson helped guide the NEA after enactment of the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2001. “John developed a reputation as someone who would fight hard for what he believed but who was also willing to collaborate to achieve common goals,” said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president. Wilson joined NEA as a student at WCU and went on to serve as president of the Raleigh Classroom Teachers Association and then as president, chief lobbyist and executive director of the N.C. Association of Educators.


“The Collected Tabletop: Inspirations for Creative Entertaining,” the first book by Waynesville interior designer Kathryn Greeley MS ’83, was published by Greenleaf Publishing in September. With photos, recipes and other party inspirations, the book demonstrates how to create memorable table designs for occasions small and large.

Nancy Rogers Pomeranz retired in 2010 after 32 years with the N.C. Department of Revenue, the last 16 as director of the Personal Taxes Division. Pomeranz serves on the board of directors of Military Missions in Action, a nonprofit organization that helps disabled veterans live independently. She enjoys volunteering with her church and traveling with her husband, Jim. The couple lives in Cary and has a daughter in Washington, D.C., and a son, Christopher N. Bridges MAC 2006, who lives with his wife and child in Hendersonville. Purple Pride runs in the family: Brothers Patrick R. Rogers ’82 MBA ’89 and Michael T. Rogers ’93, sisters-in-law Anita West Rogers ’92 MAEd ’94 and Rachel Rutherford Rogers ’82 and niece Lauren Rogers Sastre ’06 all are WCU grads.

Richard Shore retired in 2011 after 38 years with High Point Parks and Recreation supervising recreation centers, heading marketing and promotion, and organizing special events. Shore, who over the years became involved with Special Olympics, the Senior Games and other special populations, credits late WCU faculty member Quinn Constantz with encouraging him to pursue the fledgling recreational leadership degree. “He said, ‘We are going to add a course of study to train recreation professionals, and I think you would be good at it,’” Shore recalled. “A very wonderful, successful career was born that day.” Shore also credits professor emeritus James Bryant, whom Shore assisted with the university’s intramurals from 1971-73, with helping him prepare for the field. “Western means everything to me and what I’ve been able to accomplish,” said Shore, who now works part time for High Point Parks and Recreation. Other Catamounts in the family: son Bryan Shore ’08 and nephew Tyler Shore ’08.


James “Ike” Eichling has acted on stage and screen since the 1970s. Moving to Chicago in the early 1980s to pursue acting, Eichling earned small parts in films including “Hoffa” with Jack Nicholson and “Only the Lonely” with John Candy and in the television dramas “Chicago Story” and “ER.” Now in Charlottesville, Va., he appears in local, independent films and operates Ike’s Underground, an emporium for vintage and eclectic finds.

Mary Bennett Harvey won the 2011 Ray Bullard Award from the North Florida Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in recognition for outstanding contributions to public relations through service and accomplishment. Harvey founded Agency a la Carte, a staffing and recruiting firm specializing in marketing communications, more than 18 years ago and has helped launch many public relations careers and served as mentor, adviser and advocate of the profession.


Nicky C. Walker retired in June after 35 years of coaching and teaching physical education. After a brief time in Colombia, South America, and Atlanta, Walker returned to North Carolina, spending 10 years in Orange County schools and then 20 years in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. He coached football, basketball and his true love, tennis, notching more than 720 varsity wins in boys and girls tennis over the course of his career. At Chapel Hill his teams won 20 conference titles and eight regional crowns and made the state finals five times, with titles in 1993 and 1997. He remains active as a tennis player and teacher.


Lewis Lineberger was named Class A lower state football Coach of the Year by the South Carolina Coaches Association in December, an award that came after a 8-2 regular season record that took the Johnsonville High School Flashes to the playoffs. In his seven seasons at Johnsonville, Lineberger has a record of 44-30, with 16 wins over the past two seasons.

Tom Vernon retired in April from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. Vernon’s law enforcement career spanned 30 years, beginning with the Asheville Police Department. He and his wife, Jean, have two daughters and live in Asheville.


Bobby Justice MBA ’88 has been named associate vice chancellor for financial services at WCU after serving in the position on an interim basis.