Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina is one of the most prestigious public institutions in the region. One of the 50 best regional universities in the American South and one of the best 15 in the public higher education system, WCU has also been ranked among the top five in the country for undergraduate research. There are more than 150 degree programmes at the university, with around a quarter aimed at postgraduates.
Founded as a secondary school in 1889, it became a four-year teacher training college in 1929. By 1953, when it changed its name to Western Carolina College, it had also launched liberal arts and postgraduate courses. It joined the state’s university system in 1972.
WCU’s main campus, which comprises more than 600 acres, is near the Great Smoky Mountains in the south west of the state. It is 160 miles west of Charlotte, 85 miles south east of Knoxville, Tennessee and 150 miles north west of Atlanta, Georgia. WCU also has a campus in Biltmore Park, just south of the city of Asheville, offering a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The student-staff ratio across both campuses is 16:1, below the national average.
Award-winning comedian and writer David Sedaris, comedian Rich Hall, a regular on shows like Saturday Night Live, Have I Got News For You and QI, and Kevin Martin, a shooting guard who spent most of his NBA career at the Sacramento Kings, where he became one of the few players in franchise history to score 50 points in a game, are all WCU alumni.