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)
- With over 15 years in education, including 11 higher education and 4 as a public school teacher, as well as a sponsor of student scholarship and research projects and presentations at regional and national conferences
- Maintains administrative oversight for all FYE transition courses, first-year seminars, and first-year learning communities
- Facilitated the first two QEP interdisciplinary campus-wide initiatives: The Josefina Niggli Celebration and Sweet 'N Low
- 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 Quality Enhancement Plan Fellow for the CFPA, and for the Center for Service Learning - Author of seven grants to fund program development and student research
- Presented at over 14 professional conferences in the past six years including 5 national presentations
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
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
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
James A. Felton
Director of Intercultural Affairs
James Felton is the Director of Intercultural Affairs at Western Carolina University. Previously, Mr. Felton was the Director of Multicultural Affairs at Lebanon Valley College. He has held administrative and adjunct instructor positions at Elizabethtown College, The Office of the Chancellor for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Harrisburg Area Community College, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Mr. Felton earned his B.A. degree in Psychology and his M.S. degree in Educational Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD.
Mr. Felton worked on the critically acclaimed University of Wisconsin's Diversity Plan 2008 (Green Bay campus) as well as provided oversight for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Partnership Pre-college Program for underrepresented middle and high school students. He also managed a Multicultural Fellowship program for 100 students as one of three national scholarship programs offered at Lebanon Valley College. He is also working with a team of multicultural and student affairs professionals to establish a premier national honor society on social justice in higher education.
Mr. Felton has held numerous leadership positions including: former state officer for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education, Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Association of Liaisons and Officers of Multicultural Affairs, is the past recipient of the prestigious Who’s Who in American College and Universities, and is an alum of the Capital Region Preview Class of Leadership Harrisburg. His scholarly interests are in the areas of urban leadership and education, social justice, and resiliency of underrepresented students.
He has conducted more than 60 workshops on diversity, social justice, leadership, and student development.
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. She is a member of the WCU Poverty Project committee.
Her service at Western Carolina also includes involvement on the Faculty Senate as the elected secretary and the Department of Student Community Ethics as the Chair for Academic Integrity hearings. Serving on the Board of Directors for REACH of Jackson County, Rebecca is also a trained and active hotline volunteer.
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!
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.
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.
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
Arika Morrison, M.S., LPC
Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Care Coordinator
Counseling & Psychological Services
225 Bird Building
- Is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been a member of Counseling & Psychological Services since 2007. Has experience working with a variety of counseling issues including: Relationships, Sexual Abuse, Trauma, Disordered Eating, Body Image, Self-Esteem and Women’s Issues. Provides supervision to graduate level students.
- Completed her Master’s Degree in Counseling with a specialty in College Student Personnel from Shippensburg University in 2002. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1998 with a major in Human Development and Family Studies and a Minor in Psychology.
- Over 13 years of experience participating in various roles while working in various departments in Higher Education.
- Previous experience also includes positions in Alcohol and Other Drug Education, Residence Life, First Year Seminar Instructor and Peer Education Advisor.
- Develops relationships with community resources for sexual and interpersonal violence care issues and disordered eating resources.
- Active member on sexual and interpersonal violence committees and serve as the liaison for CPS with other programs in related collaborative efforts, including Red Zone, Take Back the Night and GLOW (Growth and Learning Opportunities for Women).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
FYE Student Office Assistant
Hi, my name is Gabby Robinson. I am 19 years old and was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am a freshman, three hours away from home, here at Western Carolina University. So far my journey he has been amazing. I have enjoyed all of the new people that I have met through my classes and my resident hall and look forward to others who I may meet.
I am currently majoring in Chemistry with a concentration of pre-medicine but I will soon be switching it to Emergency Medical Care. After Western, I hope to be accepted into the medical school program at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I hope to one day, when I grow up, be a surgeon at a top hospital in North Carolina. Some of the things that I am involved in include the First Year Experience Student Council and Honors College. I work in the Office for Undergraduate Studies and love working there.
I also love being here at Western and I am looking forward to my next three and a half years here!
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.
Greek Life Graduate Assistant - Office of Leadership & Student Involvement
Graduate Intern - First Year Experience
321 University Center
- FYE Internship Goals: Research and assess current resources for the transfer student population in regard to the FYE program here at WCU. Will build a proposal to for the department in how they can service this specific population for optimal student success.
- Bachelor of Science, Integrative Health Sciences - Stetson University, 2013
- Masters of Education, College Student Personnel - Western Carolina University, In Progress
- Student Affairs Experience at Stetson:
- Active member with executive board experience, Pi Beta Phi - FL Alpha
- Staff Member, Assistant Coordinator for Transfer & Non-Traditional students - FOCUS Orientation Program
- Founding member and President - Club & Division I Women's Lacrosse Program
- Health & Wellness Intern - Office of Wellness & Recreation
- Other Student Affairs Experience:
- Summer Intern, Office of Student Involvement & Leadership - University of Louisville
- Active Member - SACSA, NASPA & Fraternity / Sorority Knowledge Community
- Advisor - National Panhellenic Council, WCU
Graduate Success Coordinator
Janae' McKinney is the Graduate Success Coordinator for Upper Scott (6-9), Balsam and Blue Ridge Halls. Janae' is an Alumni of WCU. She assists with Resident Assistance academic program resources. Some of Janae's responsibilities regard first year students include:
- Recognizing residents academic achievements;
- Conducting individual sessions with resident students in need of academic assistance;
- Provides referrals to co-campus partners;
- Mentors students within the 3.0 club