Regional business leaders to share insights in spring WCU speaker series

by Jan 3, 2014Happenings0 comments

CULLOWHEE—Ten leaders from across Western North Carolina and beyond will share their personal perspectives on leadership with students in a Western Carolina University master’s degree program course in business administration this spring.

Representing a cross-section of public and private sectors, including business, health care, education, government and nonprofits, the leaders will serve as guest speakers in an MBA class titled “Leadership and Ethics” taught by Ed Wright, associate professor of global management and strategy.

The course will meet Tuesday nights throughout the spring semester at WCU’s site at Biltmore Park.

A diverse array of guest speakers provides the MBA students with valuable insight into what makes a person an effective leader, Wright said. Students and attendees will hear diverse views and leadership styles and can adopt practices that fit with their strengths and situations, said Wright.

The schedule of speakers for the spring semester:

Jan. 21 – Gerald Austin, officiating consultant, NFL

Jan. 28 – Jack Cecil, CEO, Biltmore Farms

Feb. 4 – Kitty Price, marketing director, Highland Brewery

Feb. 11 – David Gantt, chairman, Buncombe County Commissioners

Feb. 18 – Anne Ponder, chancellor, University of North Carolina Asheville

March 4 – Bill Murdock, CEO, Eblen Charities

March 18 – George Briggs, executive director, North Carolina Arboretum

March 25 – Terry O’Keefe, author, columnist

April 1 – Suzanne DeFerie, CEO, Asheville Savings Bank

April 8 – Maj. Gen. Richard Devereaux, U.S. Air Force

Talks will begin promptly at 6 p.m. and will last about 40 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period. The sessions are open to WCU alumni in addition to all WCU faculty, staff and graduate students from any program.

Western Carolina has offered a variety of courses in Asheville since 1937 and taught classes at various sites in Buncombe County until fall 2012, when the university consolidated those graduate and undergraduate programs to its new off-campus instructional site in Biltmore Park Town Square. The consolidation of academic offerings into one location was designed to expand access to university-level programming and better serve the educational needs of Western North Carolinians in the Buncombe-Henderson corridor, while also improving operational efficiencies.

The MBA leadership course is one of 98 being offered by WCU at Biltmore Park this spring.  Courses in three new programs were added for the 2013-14 academic year: the master’s degree program in technology, the doctorate program in nursing practice and the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program, a partnership with community colleges that provides a four-year, seamless associate-to-baccalaureate nursing education. In addition, the newly revived doctorate program in educational leadership resumed courses over the summer at Biltmore Park, with additional courses continuing into the spring semester.

Starting this fall, courses for the bachelor of science degree in engineering also will be offered by WCU at Biltmore Park. Construction of the engineering space is expected to begin in February.

Info: Patsy Miller, director of WCU Programs at Biltmore Park, (828) 654-6498 or email For information about WCU’s MBA program, contact Kelly McIntyre, program manager, (828) 654-6533 or For more information about the speaker series, contact Wright (828) 227-3603 or