Former Catamount baseball and basketball player George W. Kirby returned to WCU last year in a new role as proud grandfather. Kirby attended the fall commencement ceremonies held in December to see granddaughter Kourtney R. Kirby ’15 receive her diploma. A cheerleader during her four years as a student, she has enrolled in graduate school at WCU and serves as the cheer team’s assistant coach.


Steve White received the Moog/Gene Ochsenreiter Award for Lifetime Achievement during the Western North Carolina Sports Awards Banquet held in May in Asheville. White served more than four decades in the sports information office at WCU, publicizing the achievements of WCU student-athletes, coaches and teams during his career. He retired in 2010. White is one of only 12 people to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Conference. He also won the Football Writers Association of America’s award for outstanding press box service eight times.


Bill Hoke has retired from his education career of 34 years and works part time at High Point University. Hoke was a counselor, assistant principal and principal in Guilford County for 25 years. Wife Joy Lane Hoke ’73, retired school media coordinator in Guilford County, is a real estate agent in the High Point/Greensboro area. “We still make a point to visit WCU at least once a year and are amazed at the campus as compared to 43 years ago,” he said. “The rest of our spare time we spend in trying to keep up with our grandsons.”


Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Douglas Scott Penland MAEd ’80 EDS ’81 of Hayesville to the board of trustees of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. Penland recently served as superintendent of Cherokee Central Schools. He retired from the Clay County school system after 38 years of service, including 32 years as superintendent. He was honored as the western regional superintendent of the year twice and was the North Carolina superintendent of the year in 1996.


The International Society for Technology in Education has awarded the “Making IT Happen” award to David Warlick for his contributions to the successful integration of technology in education. A Cleveland County native, Warlick has more than 30 years in the IT field as an educator. He has written instructional software, created websites, authored several IT books, and has been a featured speaker
at conferences in the U.S. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South America and Europe.

LeVon E. Wilson of Statesboro, Georgia, has been named associate provost of Clark Atlanta University. Wilson previously was a professor of legal studies at Georgia Southern University. In his new position, he will oversee enrollment management and work with the university’s leadership in the areas of academic policy, strategic direction and resource planning.


George Frizzell MA ’81, longtime director of Special Collections at WCU’s Hunter Library, retired in July. Frizzell devoted
his entire professional career to the library, beginning in 1974 as a student worker. He had headed Special Collections
since 1989.

The N.C. Board of Education has appointed David Machado as new director of the Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools. Machado has been chief administrator of the Lincoln Charter School for the past 12 years. He previously owned and managed an automotive and tire business.


Jim Lanning has been promoted to president and CEO of Ingles Markets Inc., a Black Mountain-based grocery chain that operates 202 supermarkets in six southeastern states. Lanning joined Ingles when he was a teenager, working afternoons and weekends at a small store in Skyland, a few miles from his high school. In more than 40 years with the company, he has held key roles at every level of management in several states. In 2009, he was recipient of WCU’s Professional Achievement Award.


Karen J. Torrence MAEd ’82 retired June 1 after a career of more than 25 years devoted to helping those with visual impairments. Torrence most recently was the area rehabilitation supervisor of the Asheville district office of the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She also has served as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and a vocational rehabilitation counselor-in-charge.


Jim Buchanan received first place for editorial writing in the North Carolina Press Association’s 2015 awards competition. Buchanan, editorial page editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, was cited for his insightful commentary on issues that matter to the local community. Also, in March, he received the College News Association of the Carolinas’ Pete Ivey Award for outstanding media coverage of higher education issues in North and South Carolina, an honor he was nominated for by WCU.


Dawn Neatherly MAEd ’89 is director of Appalachian Community Services’ day treatment program for middle school and high school students in Murphy. Appalachian Community Services provides mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services to individuals, families and communities in Western North Carolina. Neatherly previously served as a school counselor for 24 years.

The North Carolina Augmentative Communication Association recognized the service of president Page Norris-Mikol MAEd ’86 by awarding her the honors of the association for 2016. Mikol, a speech-language pathologist for the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program, has twice served as NCACA president. She and husband John Mikol ’86, a systems engineering manager for National General Insurance of Winston-Salem, have two daughters.


Scott E. Hall and wife Michelle Hall are co-authors of a book for mental health and health care professionals published by Springer Publishing Co. in July. He has been a member of the faculty at the University of Dayton in Ohio since 1995. His wife is an associate professor in the counseling department at Xavier University. Their book is titled “Managing the Psychological Impact of Medical Trauma: A Guide for Mental Health and Health Care Professionals.”

Larry Reid is the longtime on-air personality at radio station WKXR-AM in Asheboro. Reid was featured in an article in the Asheboro Courier-Tribune for his service to the station as a “jack of all trades” and his work as emcee for community events and charitable organizations, a parade judge and YMCA ambassador. He has worked at the station since 1988.

Melanie Sass has joined Phillips Staffing of Greenville, South Carolina, as accounting manager. Sass has more than 30 years of experience in accounting. A native of Greensboro, she will be responsible for the daily operations of the firm’s accounting team.


The University of Illinois Press has published a book about the history of Southern Appalachian dances written by Phil Jamison MS, a professor of mathematics, Appalachian music and Appalachian studies at Warren Wilson College. Jamison’s book, titled “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance,” explores square dances, step dances, reels and other dance forms from their roots in early European, African-American and Native American dances to present day. Jamison has called dances, performed and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and abroad for more than 40 years.


Moore County Schools has named Tim Locklair to the new position of chief officer for academics and student support services. Locklair had served as western area superintendent for Wake County Schools since 2004. He previously served as principal at Holly Springs High School, Apex Middle School and Montgomery County’s West Middle School. He also was a social studies teacher, football and baseball coach, and assistant principal at Pinecrest High School in Moore County.


John Bowers MA and Kyle McCurry ’07 MBA ’11 are the managing editors of Owl & Spade, the magazine of Warren Wilson College, which won two gold awards and one platinum award in the Hermes Creative Awards competition of the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

David Allen McNeill MPA ’01 is the new county administrator for Pickens County, South Carolina. McNeill has 27 years of experience in public service work, mostly in Transylvania County, where he was county operations manager. He also held positions in Montgomery, Guilford and Moore counties.


Thomas Slusser has won the N.C. Governor’s Award for Excellence for a creative solution to an environmental cleanup. Slusser, a project manager at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, and Chris Niver, an environmental engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, teamed up for the project, making use of expired-date soda donated by Pepsi-Cola to help break down groundwater contamination at a former asphalt testing site in Rockingham. The sugars in the soft drink acted as a catalyst for naturally occurring bacteria in soil to grow and release a byproduct to break down the contamination. The project saved the state an estimated $1.6 million. The award is the highest recognition a state employee can receive. Slusser is married to Jennifer Slusser ’96, who is a 10th-grade history teacher at Enloe High School in Raleigh.


Jason G. Propst is serving as the regional sales director of BH Media Group’s North Carolina Community Newspapers. The group, which has newspapers in Hickory, Statesville, Morganton, Mooresville, Concord and Marion, is a Berkshire Hathaway Company. Propst is based
in Hickory.


Jillian Hardin is serving as the area agency on aging director of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, headquartered in Henderson.
The agencies support the development of programs for older adults. Kerr-Tar serves the five-county region of Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties.


Lori Chappell of Canton is serving as the business development manager of Champion Credit Union. A former career development coordinator for Henderson County Public Schools and teacher at Canton Middle School, Chappell also has worked in the mortgage banking field in Asheville and Hendersonville.


Steven E. Nash MA, assistant professor of history at East Tennessee State University, is author of a new book, “Reconstruction’s Ragged Edge: The Politics of Postwar Life in the Southern Mountains,” published by The University of North Carolina Press.

Kevin Stiens has a new job as director of the Spartanburg (South Carolina) County Parks Department. Stiens previously was business administrator of the Greenville (South Carolina) Parks and Recreation Department. He also has worked in the parks departments in Catawba and Jackson counties in North Carolina.


Christina “Attie” Attebery Kennelly and husband Chris are parents of three adopted children, ages 1, 2 and 4.
The Kennellys live in Jacksonville, Florida, where he is an executive producer for Kennetic Productions, a video company. She was a star volleyball player who was inducted into the WCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

Joan Petit MA has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant to Ethiopia for the 2016-17 academic year. Petit, an associate professor and librarian at Portland State University in Oregon, will teach information science classes, train staff and work with the Jimma University Library during her year as a Fulbright Scholar. She also will conduct a research project focusing on open educational resources in Ethiopia. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government to foster relations with other countries.

Former Catamount basketball player Casey Rogers, now in his eighth season as basketball coach at Freedom High School in Morganton, led his team to the state 3-A men’s basketball championship for 2016. It is the second time the Patriots have won the state championship with Rogers as their coach. Rogers’ family’s ties to Freedom span two generations. He played basketball at the school as a high school student. The coach at the time was his father, Terry Rogers, who led the team to the North Carolina 4-A high school men’s basketball championship.

Brad Swayngim MAEd ’04, physical education teacher and boys basketball coach at Rugby Middle School in Hendersonville, has achieved a coaching record of 112-45 in his career of 11 years at the school. Swayngim’s teams also are well known for community volunteer projects, including service to the Boys and Girls Club, Toys for Tots and the Storehouse. The assistant coach at Rugby is Keith Merrill ’04.


Angelia Anglin MSA is the new exceptional children/accountability director for Yancey County Schools. Anglin has served the elementary and middle schools of the county for more than 26 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. She was formerly principal at East Yancey Middle School.


Pushpita Kotikalapudi MAC is a new partner in the Bethesda, Maryland, office of CohnReznick, an accounting, tax and advisory firm headquartered in New York. A member of the firm’s affordable housing practice, Kotikalapudi has more than 15 years of public accounting service with nonprofit organizations, real estate developers and low-income housing tax credits funds. She speaks at national conferences on the topics of affordable housing and tax credit issues.

Pamela J. Mims MAEd has been named associate dean of research and grants for the Clemmer College of Education at East Tennessee State University. Mims, who joined the faculty at ETSU in 2010, has gained national attention for her work in assisting with the development of an app that is used by educators to teach language arts skills to middle-school children with severe disabilities.

Nic Puechner, judicial clerk for the Minnesota Court of Appeals, has joined the law firm of Larkin Hoffman in Bloomington, Minnesota. Puechner graduated summa cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Marnina Queen is serving as the CEO of New Hanover County’s ABC Board. Originally from Sylva, Queen lived for several years in Greensboro, where she worked for the Greensboro ABC Board as personnel director/assistant manager. She is a veteran with 12 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. The New Hanover board operates 10 ABC stores in Wilmington, Carolina Beach and Castle Hayne.


Former Catamount football player Francis Brown has been named associate head football coach of Temple University. Prior to joining the Owls in 2011, Brown was a high school coach and also worked as a football trainer. Instrumental in helping the Cats rank 12th place nationally in total defense in 2004, he also is remembered as the cornerback who suffered a broken arm early in the 2003 season and returned to start for the last five games with his arm in a cast.


Cameron Miller MA was featured on CNN this year for his leadership role in a unique charity tournament called “Three Piece Suit Football” that takes place in Atlanta and Boston each year. Instead of uniforms, team players don fashions purchased in thrift shops for the tournament. Their unusual outfits often are in tatters by the game’s end. The tournament raised more than $7,000 this year for Pets for Vets, an organization that trains rescue dogs as companions. It was the largest amount ever raised at a single game in the group’s 10-year history. The group has raised more than $32,000 in the past four years to support charities. The next games will be in October in Boston and February
in Atlanta.


Tim K. Hardin MAEd ’09, school counselor at Forest Hills Elementary, was named Gaston County’s school counselor of the year for 2015-16. Hardin also was re-elected to a two-year term as vice president of the Southwest Region 6 of the North Carolina School Counselor Association. He lives in Shelby with his wife and two sons.

The work of Eastern Band of Cherokee artist Luzene Hill MFA ’12 was recently featured in three exhibitions, including at the Art Mur gallery in Montreal; the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Bascom Art Center in Highlands.


Kim Pate MBA is the new director of intercollegiate athletics at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Pate, who had been director of athletics at the University of Illinois-Springfield since 2011, began her new job June 1. A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, she moved to North Carolina as a teenager, finishing high school here and earning her bachelor’s degree at Brevard College. She was formerly athletics director at Brevard.


John Taylor was selected as the New Jersey Charter Schools Association’s Teacher of the Year for 2016. Taylor, health and physical education teacher at Beloved Community Charter School in Jersey City, joined the faculty when the school opened in 2012. Since that time, he has raised $83,000 in grants to purchase equipment and develop the school’s sports programs. Taylor is coordinator of the school’s anti-bullying program, the Reebok BOKS Kids morning activity program and Girls on the Run programs, and the intramural sports leagues.


Jonathan Finch, director of campus safety and police at Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, South Carolina, was selected as one of 10 national finalists for Campus Safety Magazine’s director of the year award. 2012

Jill DeHoog received an award for teaching excellence from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. She is a member of the nursing department faculty at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas.

Krisha Faw, geographic information system technician at F&W Forestry Services of Albany, Georgia, was selected for The Wildlife Society’s 2016 Leadership Institute. Faw is one of 10 early-career wildlife professionals in the U.S. selected for the competitive program. While at WCU, she served as a student senator and was a founder of the Wildlife and Forestry Club, a student chapter of The Wildlife Society.


While on a trip to Los Angeles, Kassey Beam of Shelby was chosen as a contestant for the CBS game show “The Price Is Right” and successfully competed to the final round before she was eliminated. The show aired last October. Beam recently married Alex Fender. The two met at WCU in the summer of 2012 when Beam was assisting with WCU orientation and Fender, who later graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, was taking summer classes.


Franklin native Tyler Cook has written his second novel, “Aluria,” a work of science fiction. Cook’s first novel, “One,” was released in 2015. He also is the author of “A Guide to Historic Dillsboro.”

Geology alumna Bailey Donovan and Blair Tormey, a researcher for WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, are among 18 contributors to a paper about climate change now being discussed in the scientific community. The research, led by retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen, suggests that drastic climate change could happen within decades rather than centuries because of the current rate of burning fossil fuels. The findings were released in March by the European science journal “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.” Donovan is in graduate school at East Carolina University.

Erin Kearse Gamez wrote the proposal that won a $50,000 grant from the Glass Foundation of Asheville to help fund the construction of a new $1.4 million pool project for the town of Canton. The town’s old pool reached the end of its useful life after 70 years of operation and was closed. Gamez, who has worked at the pool in various capacities for the past seven years, was named Canton’s first recreation program coordinator and certified pool operator in July.

Ashton Bennett Middleton has returned to her alma mater, Starmount High School of Boonville, in a new role as the school’s drama teacher. Middleton, who majored in stage and screen at WCU, also was involved in theater arts while in high school at Starmount.


Katie Bell MA accepted a full-time position at the Museum of Natural History and Science of Cincinnati, Ohio, after completing a summer internship there in 2015. Formerly a graduate assistant at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, Bell is a program specialist at the museum, part of the Cincinnati Museum Center, a multi-museum complex housed in the historic Union Terminal.

Scherita Cambridge is the winner of the logo design contest for the North Carolina chapter of The Wildlife Society’s national conference to be held in October in Raleigh. Cambridge is employed at Highlands Nature Center. She also created a coloring book for kids, which is used as a teaching tool and fundraiser at the Highlands Biological Station.

Anna McAbee and Ryan Andrew “Andy” Reed ’10, both former members of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, are planning a November wedding following a commencement day proposal last December. McAbee lives in Wake Forest, where she is a disability examiner for North Carolina Disability Determination Services. Reed is a historian at Bennett Place in Durham. McAbee’s father, Gene McAbee, was the longtime director of traffic and security at WCU. Her mother Kathleen Monahan McAbee ’89, a United Methodist minister, was formerly secretary of the campus Wesley Foundation.

Kayembe Helva Matungulu was introduced to American football only five years ago, but already has been signed by the New York Jets. Matungulu, a native of Kenya who comes from a rugby background, was a defensive lineman for the Catamount football team. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 265 pounds, his size, strength and quickness always intrigued scouts for professional teams who saw him play. In New York, he is working with another former WCU defensive lineman, John Scott Jr. ’00, an assistant coach for the Jets.

Matthew Ryan Stone MPA has been appointed vice mayor of Black Mountain. Stone, who was elected to the board of aldermen in 2013, is the grandson of the late Dick Stone, who served as the town’s mayor for 18 years.


Joe Barone is the new chief of the Statesville Police Department. A native of New York, Barone is a 26-year veteran of the department who has served as a patrol officer, school resource officer, investigator, patrol sergeant, captain in the investigations division and interim chief.

Shahab Karimi MST of Cullowhee was awarded a graduate research assistantship by Clemson University and enrolled in the university’s doctoral program in mechanical engineering in June. The assistantship covers the cost of tuition and living expenses. Karimi continues to collaborate on projects with faculty in WCU’s mathematics program and College of Engineering and Technology.