Director, First Year Experience
137B Killian Annex
- Has been a member of the Western Carolina University family since 2004.
- Her philosophy and pedagogy is grounded in holistic and integrated approaches to connect academic, co-curricular, social, and developmental experiences and that provide an inclusive and diverse perspective that is representative of students, faculty, staff, and the institution.
- Her educational and professional background is in Arts Education (from Prescott College in Arizona) and in Theatre Costume Design (from UNC Greensboro)
- Has 20 year as a professional educator, including 14 in higher education and 6 in public schools.
- Maintains administrative oversight for all FYE transition courses, first-year seminars, and summer learning communities.
- Facilitates professional development workshops for collaborative and interdisciplinary strategies.
- Co-founder and Program Director for the Theatre in Education Program at WCU (2005-2010).
- Recipient of the Chancellor's Meritorious Service to Students Award; the Chancellor's Engaged Teaching Award and a finalist for the Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies award.
- Fellowship and Grants: Served as a Fellow for the CFPA, and for the Center for Service Learning - Author of eight grants to fund program development and student research.
Department of Engineering & Technology
Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering
- Ph.D., University of Alabama in Huntsville
- M.S., Johns Hopkins University
- B.S., Clarkson University
Areas of Interest
Professional interests include 3D simulation of electrical and thermal effects in the human body, numerical methods in electromagnetics, electrophysiology, 3D graphics, and digital signal processing.
Keysha Alston, M.A., LPCA
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate
Counselor at WCU Programs at Biltmore Park
Outreach Coordinator Counseling and Psychological Services
- Is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and has been a member of Counseling & Psychological Services since 2012. Has experience working with a variety of counseling issues including: depression, anxiety, body-image, self-injury, women’s issues, LGBTQ issues, relationships, and life transitions.
- Completed her Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of West Florida in
2010. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of West Florida with a
major in Pychology
and a Minor in Women Studies. She also graduated from UWF’s Honors Program.
- Over 8 years of experience participating in various roles while working in various departments in Higher Education.
- Previous experience also includes positions in academic advising and coordinating Honors programming, First Year Experience Instructor and serving as an advisor to various student groups.
- On Monday and Tuesday you can find her working at the Biltmore Park Instructional Site, providing counseling at that location.
- Is currently serving as the CAPS Outreach Coordinator.
Assistant Director for Residence Life
Duties include: Selection, training and supervision of Resident Directors; overseeing
student development, administration and programming in the residence halls; supervision
of the administration
of residence halls; maintaining programming budgets; adjudicating all major and minor violations of university code of student conduct; counseling and advising of resident students.
Director, Career Services/Cooperative Education
A unit of the Office of Undergraduate Studies
205E Killian Annex
- 30+ years in higher education and in WCU Career Services; 14 years as Career Services Director
- Nationally Certified Career Counselor
- Instructor of 2 courses in career and major exploration offered through WCU Leadership and Human Services departments
- Able to assist students in career choice through the administration and evaluation of vocational assessments (5 inventories)
- Coordinates and provides leadership to the WCU Cooperative Education program
- Oversees On-Campus Non-Work Study Student Employment Program
- Oversees and provides assistance to all Career Services career events (etiquette events, career fairs)
- Knowledgeable about and provides leadership regarding job search strategies (resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, job searching)
- Presented at national and regional conferences; published in national journals
- Holds memberships in American Counseling Association (ACA), National Career Development Association (NACD), National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Southern Association of Colleges and Employers (SoACES), Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA), American Association of Employment in Education (AAEE), Southern Association of Student Employment Administrators (SASEA)
- Earned the CAS and MAEd in Counseling from Western Carolina University and a BS in Biology from Alma College in Michigan
Office of Academic Initiatives in Residential Living
- Teaches LEAD LLC "The Band of Brothers"
- Committed to Service Learning and the Community Table
- Resident Director of Scott Hall and Walker Hall through Spring 2011
- Licensed Myers Briggs Evaluator
- Undergraduate Degree: Political Science from Appalachian State University
Assistant Director of Writing/Rhetoric/Critical Studies
- Education: Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, Comparative Literature with a Film Studies emphasis
- Areas of Specialty: Composition, Film/Media Studies, and 20th Century American Literature
- Previously: Adjunct instructor at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany
Assistant Director, Center for Service Learning
Jennifer Cooper is the Assistant Director of the Center for Service Learning at WCU, where she helps students, faculty, and staff get involved in the community. She currently teaches LEAD 152: Going Green, co-chairs the WCU Poverty Project steering committee, and serves on several other campus committees and task force groups. She has worked in many areas of higher education: she has taught courses at WCU and Emory University, worked as an academic advisor at the University of Tennessee, and served as a researcher and administrator at WCU. She has presented on service learning and political science topics at national and regional conferences. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in political science at the University of Tennessee, and did further graduate work at Emory University.
Jennifer has been active in the community since she was a teenager. She holds leadership positions in a variety of area groups, including Jackson Neighbors in Need, Habitat for Humanity of Jackson County, and the Sylva Community Garden, and is also a regular volunteer with the Community Table and the Watershed Association of the Tuckaseegee River. When she isn’t working, Jennifer loves watching and playing sports, being outdoors, cooking, and reading.
Janina Cauley DeHart
Assistant Director of Academic Transition & Success
First Year Experience
137-A Killian Annex
- Over 10 years of experience in higher education with various roles in academic support and as Coordinator for the Academic Success Program (ASP)
- Over 10 years of experience in teaching various courses in college transition, academic skills, and leadership
- Previous experience includes working with conflict resolution and mediation, including training and establishing peer mediation programs
- Serves as a resource for students and staff on academic policies, particularly related to academic standing
- Member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA); served on the Region 3 NACADA steering committee from 2006 to 2010; chaired the 2007 Region 3 NACADA Conference; served as the NC Liaison to NACADA from 2008 to 2010
- Presenter at state, regional, and national conferences on topics such as supporting students in academic difficulty, the issue of customer service in higher education, and partnering with parents for student success.
- Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC)
- Earned M.S. in Community Counseling from WCU and an additional 18 hours of graduate work in Anthropology/Native American Studies; Earned B.A. in American Indian Studies from UNC Pembroke
Martha Kalnin Diede
Senior Faculty Developer, Coulter Faculty Commons
176 Hunter Library
- 20+ years in higher education. Prior positions include Professor of Shakespeare, Chair of English Department, Off-Stage Practicum Professor, College of Arts and Sciences Assessment Coordinator, and Chair of Faculty Development Committee.
- Served as resource for students, faculty, and staff on gender issues in higher education environments.
- Knows about teaching and learning, SoTL, Shakespeare, and Early Modern women.
- Co-edited of Spirit of Adoption (due out November 2014). Wrote Shakespeare’s Knowledgeable Body and multiple other publications.
- Current interests include but are not limited to the following: ways in which scarcity, a sense of not having enough, affects teaching and learning; how assessment practices can help students to learn measurably and teachers to teach with greater success; the use of new neurophysiological data on ways in which people learn to inform teaching practice.
- Presents at national and regional conferences.
- Holds memberships in the Professional and Organizational Development Network and Shakespeare Association of America.
- Earned BA in English from Seattle Pacific University; MA and PhD in Shakespeare from Baylor University.
Assistant Director for Fitness & Wellness
- Hometown: Cold Spring, MN
- Education: Master of Sport Administration - Belmont University
- Bachelor of Applied Science, Exercise Science - University of Minnesota-Duluth
- Fun Fact: Women's 2011 Iceman Triathlon Champion
Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Office of Admissions
- Admissions recruiter throughout based North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
- Campus tour and group tour coordinator
- Open House co–planner
- Creator of the WCU Bucket List program for FYE
- Began working at WCU in November of 2007
- Undergraduate Degree: Business Management & Administration from Western Carolina University
- Graduate Degree: Masters of Project Management from Western Carolina University
Suzanne (Sue) Grider
LMS Manager, Coulter Faculty Commons
172 Hunter Library
- Has been a member of the Western Carolina community since 1996.
- Earned M.A. in Educational Technologies from Appalachian State University.
- Presents at national and state conferences for educational technology and course design.
- Facilitates workshops on using the tools within the LMS as well as course design.
- Participates and teaches First Year Experience courses since 2011.
John Habel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor - Department of Psychology
Dr. John Habel has been a member of the faculty in WCU’s Department of Psychology since 1993. He was born in Pontiac, Michigan and attended the public schools there. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in special education from Eastern Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. From 1989 to 1993 he was a department head and acting dean at Pellissippi State Technical Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. From 2002 to 2009 he held a joint position in the Department of Psychology an in WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, where he served as the Faculty Fellow for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. His interests include qualitative research methodology, teaching and learning in kindergarten-high school setting and in higher education settings, and the psychology of race and prejudice.
Director, Orientation Programs
224 Killian Annex
- 25 years in higher education at Western Carolina University; 13 years in continuing education; a short time in Alumni Affairs as Director and remaining time in Orientation
- Instructor of LEAD 241, the orientation counselor training class
- Manages and coordinates new student orientation sessions for Spring and Summer sessions in cooperation with multiple offices/departments campus-wide
- Serves on multiple councils regarding student experiences and has served on multiple program review assessment teams
- Presented at national and regional conferences
- Former coordinator of the state's largest Elderhostel program coordinating sessions throughout western North Carolina as well as on campus
- Collaborates with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Sylva Assocation and the Dillsboro Association in providing regional information to new students and their families
- Holds current memberships in National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), Southern Regional Orientation Workshop (SROW), Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I)
- Held memberships and received awards from National University Continuing Education Association (NUCEA), Association for Continuing Higher Education, Inc. (ACHE), Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO) and Learning Resources Network (LERN) one of the largest associations for lifelong learning
- Earned a BSBA from Western Carolina University and advanced hours toward and MBA
Stephanie Sue Helmers
Assistant Director, Academic Initiatives
A Unit of the Department of Residential Living
- Over 13 years of experience in higher education working with housing and residence life programs. A proud member of the WCU family for over three years.
- Coordinates a variety of one-on-one interactions with residential students to provide support in their transition to college life.
- Coordinates the residential aspect of freshman living-learning communities including the Academic Success Program, the LEAD LLCs, and WHEE Teach.
- Coordinates Human Development and Leadership Retreat.
- Serves on multiple university committees including Western Carolina PEAKS, Western Carolina EXTREMES, Learning Community on Learning Communities, Writing and Learning Commons Advisory Board, and the Division of Student Affairs Assessment Team.
- Presented at state, regional, and national conferences.
- Earned a B.A. in Speech-Communications from Gustavus Adolphus College and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University.
- Enjoys endurance athletics, traveling, and photography.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Robert Lahm, Ph.D. began his professional career by honing an array of skills in advertising, public relations, research and marketing management positions. He has also founded entrepreneurial ventures such as Lahm & Associates, Inc., a marketing firm he started from scratch in 1988—beginning with no capital, clients, or creative portfolio. Despite the obstacles he faced, he has successfully won and delivered projects for numerous clients in higher education, banking, real estate, magazine and specialty publishing, technology products, retailing, consumer, and business-to-business markets. He is presently an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Western Carolina University. He earned his doctorate degree at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Among other sources, he has been previously recognized in several Who’s Who publications, including Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers & Educators (11th edition), Who’s Who in Business Higher Education, Who’s Who in Advertising, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals, and Who’s Who Worldwide. His research and other work products can be seen at DoctorLahm.com.
Professor - Social Work
After receiving her graduate degree from the University of Tennessee in 1985, Rebecca Lasher worked in clinical social work for 23 years specializing in counseling with children and adolescents. Her years of experience in the field led her in 2008 to the current position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. As a former school social worker, her interests include poverty and how it impacts children in the educational environment. Her service at Western Carolina includes involvement on the Faculty Senate as the elected secretary and the Department of Student Community Ethics as the Chair for Academic Integrity hearings. In 2014, the freshman class of 2017 selected Rebecca as the First Year Experience Advocate of the year. Within the greater community she serves on the Board of Directors for AWAKE-Adults Working and Advocating for Kids’ Empowerment, Rebecca is committed to the provision of services to abused and neglected children and their families in Jackson County.
Although she did not attend or graduate from Western Carolina University, Rebecca has been a devoted Catamount fan for 26 years after marrying former WCU football and baseball player, Ernie Lasher. They are the parents of twin daughters. Rebecca enjoys attending athletic events and cheering on the Cats!
Undergraduate Experience Librarian
- Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for the Writing, Rhetoric, and Critical
Program (English 101 & 202)
- Library Liaison to the FYE Program, Transfer Student Program, Honors College, International Programs, WALC and other undergraduate communities
- Member of the WCU Community since 2003
- Education: B.A. in History from Western Carolina University, Master of Library Science
North Carolina Central University
Director of the Mathematics Tutoring Center
Office for Undergraduate Studies
- Coordinator of USI 130 Transition Courses
- Chair of the Education Briefcase Implementation Team
- Advisor for the WCU Equestrian Club
FYE Student Office Assistant
Gabby is currently a senior here at Western, graduating in the fall. She is from Charlotte, North Carolina. While here at WCU, she studied Emergency Medical Care and is now a NC State Certified Paramedic. After graduating she hopes to go on to higher education and attend P.A. School.
Academic Advisor – Advising Center
Office of Undergraduate Studies
228 Killian Annex
Will joined the WCU family in 2003. As an advisor in the Advising Center, he helps undergraduate students make a smooth transition to life as a Catamount and assists them with academic and co-curricular engagement. This includes meeting with students frequently to answer concerns about major/career selection, curriculum requirements, course selection, academic progress, and student resources. He specializes in advising majors in English, accounting, finance, management, computer information systems, political science, and international studies. He also teaches an academic skills course designed for freshmen who experience academic difficulty during their first semester.
In his other roles, Will was elected as a Staff Senator for the 2011-2013 term and served as chair of the Staff Senate Scholarship Committee for the 2011-2012 year. His other committee work includes Catamount Academic Tutoring Advisory Board, Advising Assessment Committee, and the eBriefcase Implementation Team.
Will earned his B.A. in psychology and M.A. in higher education administration from the University of Alabama
Technology Commons Manager
Division of Information Technology
Sara Smith is originally from Alleghany, North Carolina. She began her higher education journey at WCU in 2004 and she has been working for the Division of Information Technology in some capacity since then. Currently she is the manager of the Technology Commons and Student Training. Her vision is that the Technology Commons provides excellent IT support to the WCU campus community, enriches the total student experience, and promotes the academic mission of the University. Sara earned both her B.F.A in graphic design and Masters of Entrepreneurship from Western. She is active in the campus community and is always looking for ways to collaborate with others. When she is not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, playing volleyball, being crafty, and singing.
Coordinator, Advising and Special Program
CEAP Suite 201 Student Support Center
- Has been a member of the College of Education and Allied Professions since 2010
- Coordinates Academic Advising for CEAP’s undergraduate teacher education programs
- Oversees the WHEE Teach Living and Learning Community for education majors
- Liaison for School of Teaching and Learning to Open House and Orientation
- Member of CEAP Leadership Council
- Current membership in the National Academic Advisors Association (NACADA)
- Presenter at state and regional conferences
- Current projects include investigation into stress in teacher education programs and gamification for pre-service and in-service teachers
Professor of Art Education
225 Bardo Art Center
- Has been a member of the Western Carolina University family since 2005
- Her philosophy and pedagogy is grounded in creative-problem solving.
- Her educational and professional background is BS Art Skidmore College, MFA Printmaking University of Alabama, PhD. Art Education University of Iowa
- With over 20 years in education, including 15 higher education and 5 as a public school teacher and with exceptional populations.
- Co-teaches Freshmen Seminar : Integral Arta
- Facilitates professional development workshops for area art teachers and WCU students (via Art Ed Club
- Installed over 20 solo installation-based exhibitions in fifteen states.
- Traveled while conducting scholarly research in over 24 countries (including 4 trips with students!)
Pre-Health Professional Advisor
The Honor's College
- Ph.D., University of Tennessee
- M.H.S., Western Carolina University
- B.S., Western Carolina University
Dr. Tallant is a Western Carolina University alumna (and North Carolina native) with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Sciences from WCU. Dr. Tallant became a registered dietitian in 1999 and completed her PhD at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2008. She returned to WCU in 2003 as a Liberal Studies Visiting Instructor in the School of Health Sciences, moving to a fixed-term Liberal Studies Assistant Professor in 2006, and a tenure-track position with the Nutrition & Dietetics Program in 2011. Dr. Tallant currently lives in Graham County with her husband, Mack, and 7-year-old son, Jackson.
Associate Director of Outdoor Programs
Division of Student Affairs
As director of Basecamp Cullowhee, Josh holds a Master’s of Science in Recreation Management from the University of Montana. A native of Brevard NC, Josh grew up exploring the mountains and rivers of Western North Carolina. Josh has worked in the outdoor industry for over 20 years and has more than 1000 field days on outdoor trips of 30 days or longer. He has instructed mountaineering, rock climbing, and whitewater trips in many of the remote corners of the world, spending most of his international time in the Patagonia region of South America. Most of his work history involves teaching for field-based programs such as Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Josh's mission is to teach students more about themselves, others, and the environment through the medium of outdoor recreation.
Office of Leadership and Student Involvement
- Teaches LEAD LLC "Freshman Leadership Institute" Course
- Teaches LEAD 180 Course
- Coordinator for Freshman Leadership Institute & Cat Camp
- Advisor for Dance Marathon - Western Carolina University
- Resident Director at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Fall 2004 - Spring 2010
- Founding Mother of Beta Kappa Sigma, Black and Latina Sorority Inc.
- Graduate Degree: Human Behavior / Organizational Psychology