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Lees-McRae Ranked Among Top Regional Colleges in South for Undergraduate Teaching by U.S. News & World Report

September 13, 2021. U.S. News & World Report ranked Lees-McRae College 28th among regional colleges in the South in its 2022 Best Colleges guide. The institution is in the number 8 spot on a list recognizing the best regional colleges in the South for undergraduate teaching and for the second year in a row appears on the list for top performers on social mobility. “While rankings do not tell the whole story of a college, they can point to some key strengths, which in our case includes teaching excellence,” said Provost Alyson Gill. “Our faculty are deeply committed to bringing their disciplines to life in the classroom and connecting with our students. In a place that is In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, and For the Mountains, our faculty build experiences that extend beyond the classroom walls with a shared recognition that an essential part of student learning happens outside the classroom.”

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Franz Rueckert Joins Lees-McRae as Dean for the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

July 29, 2021. Franz Josef Michael Rueckert, PhD, has been hired as the new Dean of Natural and Behavioral Sciences. He will officially assume the role on Aug. 9. “I am thrilled that Rueckert will be stepping into this position and look forward to working with him at this exciting time in Lees-McRae’s history,” Provost Alyson Gill said. “The depth of the leadership experience that he brings will be a great benefit to the School of Natural and Behavorial Sciences college and I know that he will be a wonderful colleague.” Rueckert comes to Lees-McRae from the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where he was the founding dean for the School of Sciences and Humanities. Prior to the school’s formation, Rueckert served as the chair of the Department of Sciences, where he oversaw the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics programs, the opening of new state-of-the-art lab spaces, and the development of the interdisciplinary Applied Sciences major. Rueckert’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and a Master of Science in Physics all from San Diego State University, and a doctorate in Physics from the University of Connecticut. In addition to his administrative and leadership experience, Rueckert has worked closely with students in both classroom and research settings.

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Lees-McRae College Hosts Inaugural School Counselor Experience

July 26, 2021. More prospective students will learn what Lees-McRae has to offer after 12 counselors from schools in New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina participated in a multi-day tour of the college and surrounding area. With more than 50 academic programs, access to active research in the Elk Valley Preserve, an on-campus wildlife rehabilitation center, a partnership with the local Beech Mountain Resort, immersive art and theatre spaces, and a high-tech nursing school facility, among other offerings, Lees-McRae provides a truly one-of-a-kind educational experience to students who choose to attend. This year, the Office of Admissions wanted to show a select group of high school counselors what the college could do for their students with the first annual School Counselor Experience. “Counselors are a great resource for students and parents and can make a huge difference in their lives by referring them to the best fitting college or university,” said Kevin J. Phillips, the vice president for enrollment management. “The goal was to let more counselors know about Lees-McRae, as many do not. We hoped that counselors could start to picture particular students from their schools that they could see attending Lees-McRae.”

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Lees-McRae College Debuts New Musical Celebrating Norman Rockwell

July 12, 2021. A world-premiere musical about one of America’s most popular artists debuts during Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, July 25 to Aug. 1. “America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story” showcases the life of a beloved painter who created more than 4,000 pieces of art. Rockwell captured the essence of America with each brushstroke, from Rosie the Riveter to The Four Freedoms. His Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations reflected small-town America at its most endearing. Written and directed by Janet Speer, Lees-McRae professor emeritus and Summer Theatre artistic director, the show transports audiences from Rockwell’s career beginnings in the early 1900s through his final years in the 1970s. Speer’s in-depth research included discussions with Rockwell’s granddaughter, Abigail Rockwell.

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Lees-McRae College to host ‘A Conversation with Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene’

July 7, 2021. On Friday, July 23, the state senator and state representative for Avery County will participate in a free public forum on the Lees-McRae campus. Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene will answer questions from their constituents and address issues relevant to area residents. Daniel, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the University of North Carolina School of Law, has served as a member of the North Carolina State Senate since 2013. Greene was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2021 after previously serving as the sheriff of McDowell County and the chief detective/chief deputy with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office. This nonpartisan event will take place in Hayes Auditorium from 6:30–7:30 p.m. and be moderated by Jim Swinkola.

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May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College to Host Wildlife Presentations in Banner Elk

May 28, 2021 After a year-long hiatus, the Lees-McRae May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will again be offering wildlife presentations to the public. Starting June 4, representatives from the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will be holding educational presentations at the Tate-Evans Park amphitheater in Banner Elk. Presentations will take place every Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m. throughout the summer and will end August 13. The talks are free to attend and feature a number of animals native to North Carolina. The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is situated adjacent to the Elk River on the campus of Lees-McRae. The center annually admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife patients from the western part of North Carolina. The patients are individually evaluated and treated based on their medical needs, with the goal to release as many animals back to the wild as possible.

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Lees-McRae Welcomes Melanie Hulbert as New Vice President for Student Affairs

May 26, 2021 Melanie Hulbert, PhD, will be joining Lees-McRae this summer as the vice president for student affairs. Hulbert most recently served as the associate vice president for academic affairs and the dean of students and director of operations for the School of Graduate Studies at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. In these positions, she oversaw academic programs and policies, led retention initiatives, implemented a new First Year Seminar curriculum, and oversaw the budgets and operations for the School of Graduate Studies. “It is clear Hulbert has a tremendous passion for student engagement, and many elements of her academic and professional background are the right fit for our vision for Student Affairs at Lees-McRae,” said President Lee King.

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Lees-McRae Summer Theatre Tickets Go On Sale May 10; Two Productions Planned this Summer


May 3, 2021  The Lees-McRae Summer Theatre season returns this June with two musicals that put the American experience at center stage. Online ticket sales begin May 10 for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story.” Tickets are currently available through mail order as well. This year, audience sizes will be reduced to allow for social distancing and fewer people in a single space. In accordance with North Carolina state mandates, all audience members are required to wear a mask and receive a temperature check before entering the theater. Additionally, the theatre will be thoroughly cleaned between performances. If any audience member is feeling ill prior to their selected performance, they should contact the box office to exchange their ticket for a different showing. 

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Red Bull Releases Rail Report Starring Blowing Rock Native Luke Winkelmann and Filmed at Lees-McRae College


April 26, 2021 Students attending the celebratory party marking the end of the school year got to see their college campus in a new light. Lees-McRae held an end-of-semester event for students on April 15. The Bobcat Blast featured food, games, a beer garden from a local Bobcat-owned brewery, and the world premiere of Red Bull’s “Back to School Urban Snowboarding” Rail Report with Luke Winkelmann, which was filmed in February on the Lees-McRae campus. In the video, Winkelmann and fellow snowboarders Judd Henkes and Alex Caccamo slide down stair rails on their boards, landing jumps into mountains of snow. The video shoot took place over three days in February. Appalachian Ski Mountain carted in the snow and the Lees-McRae ski and snowboard team helped the athletes build the jumps, turning the college campus into a temporary playground for some of the best snowboarders in the country. 

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LMC Students Come Together to Sew Wildlife Pouches for Those Affected by Australian Wildfires


January 17, 2020. Students at Lees-McRae took matters into their own hands this week bringing relief to those affected by Australian wildfires. On Tuesday, Jan. 14 and Thursday, Jan. 16, 25 students lead by Director of Library Services Jess Bellemer sewed 21 pouches for baby marsupials. Held in the Dotti M. Shelton Learning Commons Makerspace—a dedicated space where students can design, craft, sew, podcast, and more—Bellemer guided students of all skill levels through the process. “The goal of the makerspace is to connect students with making skills that they’ll take with them beyond their Lees-McRae experience,” Bellemer said. “The pouch making workshops showed them how they can use a skill such as sewing to support victims in a terrible crisis on the other side of the world. I think learning to sew and making usable materials for animals in need really clicked with the students.”

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Lees-McRae College Signs Guaranteed Admission Agreement with Blue Ridge Community College


September 6, 2019. Lees-McRae College in partnership with Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) will now offer guaranteed acceptance to all BRCC graduates as part of a recently signed articulation agreement between the two institutions. Called the Promise Program, the articulation agreement will enable eligible students from BRCC’s campus to complete their four-year degree at Lees-McRae. President Lee King and Laura B. Leatherwood, president of BRCC, signed the agreement on the campus of Lees-McRae on Thursday, Sept. 5 in the Dotti M. Shelton Learning Commons. Lees-McRae Vice President for Enrollment Management Erin Healey said, “Opportunity happens when people put their minds together to create positive change. We are working to remove barriers and are dedicated to making education accessible to our communities.”

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Lees-McRae College is Named a College of Distinction Earning the National Designation for the Third Year in a Row

August 7, 2019. Joining alongside 13 of North Carolina’s top institutions—including Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Western Carolina University in the public sector, and private institutions including Elon University and Wake Forest University—Lees-McRae is named a College of Distinction. Additionally, the business, education, and nursing programs were recognized for extraordinary professional programming. Colleges of Distinction, an online resource for students researching both private and public institutions across the U.S., reviews and compiles lists of colleges they believe to be the “best places to learn, grow, and succeed,” according to the website. 

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Lees-McRae College Community Members Gather to Unveil Renamed Frankie Ramsey Needham Alumni House


July 17, 2019. In the midafternoon on Friday, July 12, campus community members and alumni visiting for the Frolic weekend gathered to celebrate the legacy of Frankie Ramsey Needham ’55H and unveil the formerly-named Alumni House as the Frankie Ramsey Needham Alumni House in her honor. Having retired just a few weeks prior, Needham’s tenure of 47 years marked the longest-ever service in the history of the institution. After graduating from Avery County High School in 1972, Needham began at Lees-McRae under the guidance of then-president Dr. H.C. Evans Jr. as a secretary within the alumni affairs office. Working her way up the ranks since her start, Needham retired as the Director of Advancement Services. Both Lees-McRae President Lee King and Chairman of the Board of Trustees W. McNair Tornow shared their thoughts on Needham’s retirement and wished her the best.

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Gov. Roy Cooper Presents Lees-McRae Summer Theatre Director Janet Barton Speer the Order of the Long Leaf Pine


July 12, 2019. With rousing applause and a standing ovation, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre Artistic Director Janet Barton Speer was presented with the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine Thursday, July 11 at the opening night of From the Mountaintop: The Edgar Tufts Story, of which she wrote and directed. Lees-McRae President Lee King and Board of Trustees member Barbara Miller Whitton, who presented the award, nominated Speer for the honor. Created in 1963, the award is one of several civilian-focused honors the governor of North Carolina can bestow. On several occasions, the award has been regarded as the highest-ranking civilian honor achievable even though—legally—that designation is given to the North Carolina Award. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to “persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact on…North Carolina,” according to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society website.

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Lees-McRae Volleyball Releases Information on Summer Camps


March 8, 2019 The Lees-McRae College women’s volleyball team released information on its summer camps on Thursday. Over the course of the summer months, the Bobcats will host three different camps: Elite ID Clinic, Youth Skills Camp, Bobcat Skills Camp. For more information on each, see below. The first camp will be the Elite ID Clinic. This clinic will take place on May 27 from 8 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. It is geared towards girls in grades 9-12 that are looking to continue their playing careers after high school. The clinic will be operated like a normal volleyball practice and attendees will learn all of the skills involved in becoming a better volleyball player. Cost is $130 per camper, which includes meals and a Lees-McRae volleyball t-shirt. The second camp will be the Youth Skills Camp on June 20-21. The session will be 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. This camp is open to all girls and boys in grades 4-8. During this camp these ‘Little Bobcats’ will learn news skills in a fun-filled environment that translates into beginning to play volleyball. Cost is $85 per camper ($100 walk up day of). Meals will not be provided but will offer a concession stand and pizza for purchase. Each camper will receive a Lees-McRae volleyball t-shirt.

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Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine President Blake DeMaso Named Lees-McRae College 2019 Commencement Speaker


March 7, 2019 Blake DeMaso, owner and president of Summit Publishing and Mountain High Media, will address graduates during the Lees-McRae College commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11. His publishing company, Summit Publishing, produces two regional outdoor print magazines with accompanying digital platforms: Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, which serves the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, and Elevation Outdoors Magazine, which serves central Colorado. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, now in its 24th year, is dedicated to adventure seekers who want to learn more about outdoor pursuits, festivals and events, gear, outdoor hotspots, and regional outdoor news, according to DeMaso.

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Lees-McRae English Professor to Lead Illustrated Lecture on Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


February 26, 2019 Learn about the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling, during the next Lees-McRae Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecture on Thursday, March 7. Starting at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium at the Cannon Student Center, Director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia and English professor Michael Joslin will lead the illustrated lecture on Rawlings’ season in the mountains in 1936. Escaping from Florida heat, humidity, and malaria, Rawlings came to Banner Elk to research material and work on the first draft of her book, The Yearling, which later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and a movie that won Oscars and a Golden Globe. The program will examine what she learned from her mountain experience and how it affected her writing.

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Lees-McRae College Theatre Arts Presents ‘Silent Sky’ February 21–24


February 19, 2019 If you like stories about underdogs and unsung heroes, you’ll love Silent Sky. Lauren Gunderson’s drama focuses on the life of 20th century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who changed the way we see the universe. But despite her monumental discoveries, Leavitt remains largely unknown. The Lees-McRae Theatre Arts program will tell Leavitt’s story later this month in their production ofSilent Sky. The play will be performed Feb. 21–23 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre. When Leavitt began working at Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she wasn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she and her fellow women “computers” were expected to chart the stars and do the math for their boss—a renowned male astronomer who had no time for women’s theories. Nevertheless, Leavitt persisted, and her discoveries changed the way we understand the heavens.

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Today’s Email Announcements

What’s going on in your community? Here’s a brief update on the emails we received today. Check back each day for an updated list of events going on in the area. As always, please feel free to email us about your event or update.

  • Prestigious Full-Tuition Elizabeth McRae Scholarship Recipients Announced
  • Camp GOTR (Girls on the Run)
  • Watauga County Parks and Rec Pickleball for Seniors
  • High Country Local First Memberships- New!
  • Weekly Events at Lost Province Brewing Company, 4/4- 4/14
  • App State Emergency Siren Test, 4/4
  • Tweetsie Railroad Opening Day, 4/6
  • BRAHM’s Upcoming Events: Gentle Yoga, 4/6
  • Boone Area Lions Hold Country Breakfast, 4/7
  • Watauga Humane Society’s Tour for Life Adoption Event, 4/8
  • BRAHM’s Upcoming Events: Traveling Smithonian through 4/28
  • Spirit Ride’s Kentucky Derby Fundraiser, 5/5
  • Upcoming Sparta Events, Starting in June

Compiled by Kate Herman

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Today’s Email Announcements

What’s going on in your community? Here’s a brief update on the emails we received today. Check back each day for an updated list of events going on in the area. As always, please feel free to email us about your event or update.

  • Boone Board Of Adjustment Meeting Cancellation Notice, 1/4
  • Town of Boone Affordable Housing Task Force Meeting Cancellation Notice, 1/1
  • The High Country Workforce Development Board Meeting, 1/11
  • NCDOT Drone Workshops Returning in 2018, 1/24
  • Lees-McRae Online Human Services Program Ranked Among Top 25 in the Nation for 2018

Compiled by Kate Herman

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