2019-2020 Catalog


President’s Message


Dear Students,

What is your passion? No one is born knowing what they want to do with their lives, whatever will give them ultimate fulfillment. We learn what our passion is by experiences that help shape and define what gives us pleasure and satisfaction. For many people finding that passion comes about as a result of the education he or she receives. At Western Piedmont Community College we can help you find your passion. With experiences that range from pre-college basic skills classes to university preparation to technical programs designed to help you enter the 21st century workforce, WPCC is the place to help you find your way to your passion.

For over fifty years WPCC has been serving Burke County students and we have thousands of success stories to prove that what we do changes lives for the good. We offer a variety of experiences that will help you achieve whatever educational goal you set. We offer classes in a flexible format providing classes to fit almost any schedule. If you don’t want to come to class and are self-directed we can provide online classes in many of our programs. We have state-of-the-art labs, small classes and the best instructors in higher education. All of our resources are directed to helping students succeed. 

I am pleased that you are considering or have chosen to attend Western Piedmont Community College. I look forward to seeing you on campus and I hope to help you find your passion.

Michael S. Helmick, Ed.D.


Mission Statement

The mission of Western Piedmont Community College is to provide accessible high-quality education that improves lives and promotes growth in our community.

                                                                                            -Adopted September 2009

Core Values


We recognize the evolving global economy and take that as an opportunity to be original and effective in providing students with skills and training to pursue their career goals and meet employer expectations.


We take pride in serving the needs of students and the community by actively participating in service learning, civic engagement, and collaboration with community partners.


We believe in providing a safe, supportive environment that promotes learning and professional development leading to completion of academic programs, training, and career goals.


We hold ourselves accountable for nurturing and developing the potential of every employee and student through assessment of student learning outcomes, institutional effectiveness, and continuous improvement.


We value global education and acknowledge the perspective and contributions of all people. We seek the opportunity to work, learn, and develop in a community of diverse students, faculty, and staff.


We strive to exceed the expectations of each other, our students, and the community we serve, and we aspire to be known as an exceptional institution for the programs and services we provide.

Strategic Goals

Student Success

WPCC students will be provided with opportunities to be successful when pursuing their educational goals.

Employee Development

WPCC employees will advance a culture of excellence and accountability by actively participating in professional development, continuous improvement, and open communication.

Workforce Development

WPCC will provide programs and services that meet local and regional labor market demands and the career aspirations of our students.

Community Engagement & Outreach

WPCC will actively engage our students and employees with the community and promote the benefits of our programs, services, and facilities.

Institutional Enhancement

WPCC facilities and support services will be maintained and enhanced to efficiently and sustainably serve students, the community, and employees.


Historical Review

Western Piedmont Community College was chartered by the North Carolina State Board of Education on April 2, 1964, as a member of the North Carolina Community College System. The Board of Trustees, comprised of prominent citizens from Burke, McDowell, and Caldwell counties, assumed responsibility for the College and elected Dr. E.W. Phifer, Jr. as its first chair. From the very beginning, the citizens of Burke County demonstrated interest and strong support for their College by approving a state-required bond issue with an unprecedented margin of seventeen to one.

Appointed by the Board of Trustees in the fall of 1964, Dr. Herbert F. Stallworth served as the institution’s first president. With offices located in Morganton’s City Hall, the first classes were offered the following year at Central School, stores, church education buildings and other rented spaces in the area. Over 400 full-time curriculum students were admitted in the fall of 1966 when construction began on a permanent campus.

In August of 1967, Dr. Gordon C. Blank became president. Three buildings on the new 132-acre campus were occupied on March 25, 1968, and the first degrees were granted in June. Western Piedmont was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges that same year and was well along the way toward fulfilling its purpose as a comprehensive community college. Mr. H.D. Moretz, Dean of the College and member of the staff since its founding, assumed the position of acting president upon Dr. Blank’s resignation in 1978. Dr. Wilmon H. Droze served as president from 1979-1981 and provided new directions for Western Piedmont Community College.

The campus bookstore was modernized and enlarged; all buildings were certified accessible to the handicapped; and grant funds permitted an expanded program for the hearing-impaired. In honor of two outstanding friends of the College, the administration building and the science building were dedicated as W. Stanley Moore Administration Hall and Frank C. Patton Science Hall.

Dr. Jim A. Richardson served as the fourth president of Western Piedmont from 1981 to 2005. To improve management practices, a planning and evaluation process was implemented to assist in the identification of both short-term and long-range needs. By 1986 these activities had resulted in the introduction of Cooperative Education, twelve new occupational programs, transfer degrees in the Performing and Visual Arts, and a record breaking annual enrollment of over 10,000 curriculum and continuing education students.

A successful blueprint for the PROGRESS campaign in 1987 raised $1.3 million locally toward the construction of a Learning Resources Center. With $2.7 million in state funds, the 46,000 square feet structure contains a library, conference rooms, drama studio, media services center, faculty offices and classrooms. The Phifer Learning Resources Center opened in the fall of 1989.

Western Piedmont attracted national attention with a replica of Senator Sam J. Ervin’s home library and the annual Constitutional Issues Forum. The College named Hildebrand Hall in honor of local educators Johnny and Abby Hildebrand.

With annual enrollments exceeding 13,000 students, Western Piedmont Community College revised its “Master Campus Plan” to direct campus development into the twenty-first century. With funding from an approved state bond and matching funds from the county, the College dedicated a new 42,000 square foot building named the Robert P. Carr Business Technologies Center in September 1997. The College acquired an additional 209-acres of land from the State in 2000. The Rostan Horticulture Center opened in 2002 to provide classrooms and office space for the horticulture program. A 25,000 square feet K Building was added on the Richardson Complex in 2003.

Dr. Jim W. Burnett became the College’s fifth president in 2006. The Health Sciences building (17,500 square feet) opened in January 2008 and includes classroom space for chemistry, medical assisting, medical laboratory technology and nursing. (The building was re-named Jim W. Burnett Hall in 2015.) Construction began for the Emergency Services Training Center in Fall 2007.

The Foothills Higher Education Center opened in August 2009 and houses WPCC's Division of Workforce and Continuing Education, the Appalachian State University Center at Burke, and offices for Western Carolina University, Lees-McRae College, Montreat College and Gardner-Webb University.

In 2013, WPCC successfully completed a critical step in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaccreditation process, receiving an evaluation of "No Findings or Recommendations," a very rare and coveted report from the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee. The College was later reaffirmed by SACSCOC through 2024.

In 2014, WPCC celebrated its 50th anniversary and welcomed Dr. Michael S. Helmick back to Western Piedmont as the sixth president of the College.  Dr. Helmick served as Vice President for Academic Affairs from 2007 until 2011 and returned to Western Piedmont to replace Dr. Jim Burnett who retired after 41 years of service.

Western Piedmont Community College completed development of a new strategic plan in 2015 after a yearlong effort involving students, faculty and the community. The five year plan (2016 - 2021) included a new vision statement from Dr. Michael S. Helmick and is centered around five strategic goals including student success, employee development, workforce development, community engagement and outreach, and institutional enhancement.

In 2016, the Western Piedmont Foundation completed another record year of giving for student scholarships along with professional and community development programs. In addition, the year's Annual Giving Campaign marked record giving from 100 percent of full-time employees, the Western Piedmont Community College Trustees and all members of the Western Piedmont Foundation Board of Directors. This level of giving has only occurred two times in the College’s 51 year history with the previous year being 2014.

2017 was a busy year on campus as various building and renovation projects were completed or continued. This included a new building for the College’s Mechatronics program, a new kiln building and renovations to Rostan Hall to accommodate needs for the Professional Crafts program, a new off-campus space for the College’s new Cosmetology program, and renovations to the library to include a new Academic Success Center in Phifer Hall. In addition, plans were finalized to renovate space in Phifer Hall to provide a new campus café and space in H Building to provide more modern facilities for the Burke Middle College.

In 2018, renovations began on H Building on the main campus to create a permanent consolidated space for Burke Middle College and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture/Arts and Mathematics) Academy. Work also continued on renovating Phifer Hall to develop a student center, including a new student café and common areas.  Preparations continued for partnerships between WPCC and the new western campus of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics which is scheduled to open in 2021.  Finally, the College unveiled a new marked trails system on campus for walkers, runners and bicycle enthusiasts to enjoy.



Academic Calendar 2019 - 2020

Dates are Subject to Change

Fall 2019

2019 Fall Registration

August 14

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments    

August 19

Schedule Adjustments End    

August 20

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed    

September 2

"A" Term Ends/"B" Term Registration

October 14

No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Workday

October 15

“B” Term Begins

October 16

Advising & Registration for Spring 2020

Nov. 4 - Dec. 6

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

November 11

No Curriculum Classes    

November 27

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

November 28-29

Classes End

December 16


NOTE: Please refer to the Semester Guide for tuition payment and refund deadlines.

Spring 2020

Spring Registration

January 8

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments

January 13

Schedule Adjustments End

January 14

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

January 20

“A” Term Ends/”B” Term Registration

March 9

No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Workday

March 10

“B” Term Begins

March 11

Advising & Registration for Summer 2020   

May 1 - May 14

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

April 13

No Curriculum Classes

April 14 - April 17

Classes End

May 12


May 14


NOTE: Please refer to the Semester Guide for tuition payment and refund deadlines.

Summer 2020

2020 Summer Registration Ends

May 14

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments

May 26

Schedule Adjustments End

May 27

“A” Term Ends/”B” Term Registration

June 22

“B” Term Begins

June 23

No Curriculum Classes

June 29 - July 2

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

July 3

2020 Fall Registration July 13 - July 30

Classes End

July 27


August 1



NOTE: Please refer to the Semester Guide for tuition payment and refund deadlines.

Performance Report - 2018

The following information is required to be collected and reported by all colleges in the State and is provided as mandated by the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS). Data reported below is from the 2018 Performance Measures for Student Success report published by NCCCS.  Seven measures are evaluated with established baseline and excellence levels.  Based on three years of data (if available) for each measure, baseline levels are set two standard deviations below the system mean, and excellence levels are set one standard deviation above the system mean.  In the most recent report, WPCC students exceeded the excellence level on four measures, were below excellence but above the system mean on two measures, and were above the baseline but below the system mean on one measure.  WPCC strives for students to meet or exceed the excellence level on all measures. 

1)      Basic Skills Student Progress

Purpose:  To ensure adult students with low literacy skills are progressing academically toward basic skill attainment necessary for employment and self-sufficiency.

Description:  Percentage of Basic Skills students who achieve an Educational Functioning Level gain during the program year (July 1 – June 30).

Results:  2016-2017 Basic Skills Student Progress










2)      Student Success Rate in College-Level English Courses

Purpose:  To ensure students are successfully completing credit-bearing English courses within their first two academic years.

Description:  Percentage of first-time Associate Degree seeking and transfer pathway students passing a credit-bearing English course with a “C” or better within two years of their first term of enrollment.

Results:  2015 Fall Cohort Student Success Rate in College-Level English Courses










3)      Student Success Rate in College-Level Math Courses

Purpose:  To ensure students are successfully completing credit-bearing Math courses within their first two academic years.

Description:  Percentage of first-time Associate Degree seeking and transfer pathway students passing a credit-bearing Math course with a “C” or better within two years of their first term of enrollment.

Results:  2015 Fall Cohort Student Success Rate in College-Level Math Courses










4)      First Year Progression

Purpose:  To ensure first-year students reach an academic momentum point that helps predict future credential completion.

Description:  Percentage of first-time fall curriculum students attempting at least 12 credit hours who successfully complete at least 12 hours within their first academic year (fall, spring, summer).

Results:  2016 Fall Cohort First Year Progression










5)      Curriculum Student Completion

Purpose:  To ensure student completion and/or persistence toward a post-secondary credential.

Description:  Percentage of first-time fall curriculum students who, within six years of first term of enrollment, have either graduated, transferred, or are still enrolled with at least 36 non-developmental credit hours.

Results:  2011 Fall Cohort Curriculum Completion










6)      Licensure and Certificate Passing Rate

Purpose:  To ensure programmatic coursework prepares students to competently practice their chosen profession.

Description:  Aggregate institutional passing rate of first-time test-takers on licensure and certification exams.  Exams included in this measure are state mandated exams which candidates must pass before becoming active practitioners.

Results:  2016-2017 Licensure and Certification Passing Rate










7)      College Transfer Performance

Purpose:  To ensure the academic success of community college students who transfer to a four-year college or university.

Description:  The percentage of students who exited the North Carolina Community College System after having completed an Associate Degree and/or at least 30 cumulative hours of articulated transfer credit and subsequently transferred to a four-year college or university and earned a GPA of 2.25 or better after two consecutive semesters within the academic year at the institution.

Results:  2015-2016 Community College Students College Transfer Performance









In addition to the measures listed above, WPCC monitors the six-year completion rate for students who started at the College.  This data is provided by the National Student Clearinghouse and includes both full-time and part-time students who began their post-secondary studies at WPCC.

NSC Data Measure