2023-2024 Catalog


President’s Message

Dr. Joel Welch

Dear Students,

You have probably been asked many times in your life what do you want to be when you grow up? When we are young, that question is usually easy, and we snap off an answer quickly, but then we grow up, and reality sets in, and we realize that we are not sure what we want to be. No one is born knowing what they want to do with their lives. We find our path forward through experiences that shape and define the work that we care about, and that will contribute to our community. If you already know what your career path is, the staff and faculty at Western Piedmont Community College stand ready to partner with you to give you your best opportunity to successfully meet your goals. However, you may be looking for assistance in choosing a career path, and that is ok because, at Western Piedmont Community College, we will help you find the best path to a successful career. It doesn't matter what level you are starting from because we offer 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 start an education pathway that leads to universities or gets you ready to start a career quickly. Our faculty and staff are excited and ready to partner with you to develop an educational plan that gives you your best opportunity for success.

For over fifty years, WPCC has welcomed students into our classes, and we have thousands of success stories to prove that what we do changes lives for the good. We have a deeply committed faculty and staff that will come alongside of you to explore, identify and achieve your educational goals. We offer classes in flexible formats providing classes to fit almost any schedule, including face-to-face classes, hybrid classes, and 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 aligned with students' success.

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 look forward to helping you achieve your goals.


Joel D. Welch, Ph.D.,PE


Mission Statement

Western Piedmont Community College unites with all people in our community to identify and achieve their goals through an innovative, high quality educational experience. 

                                                                                            -Adopted February 2021

Vision Statement

Western Piedmont Community College is a transformational community leader that empowers all individuals to achieve success.

Core Values


At WPCC, we care deeply about our work and maintain rigorous standards that achieve results for our students, community and each other. We demand more of ourselves than our stakeholders do and exceed the expectations of our students, the community and each other through a passionate focus on continuous improvement.



At WPCC, we take pride in serving the needs of students, the community and each other by extending full attention to every person seeking information with kindness and consideration. We demonstrate this commitment through education, volunteering, counseling, providing information and attentive communication.



WPCC values the pioneering spirit of our institution by leading the way with innovative educational programs and services to meet the ever-changing needs of our students and community. We actively seek out new opportunities to develop and advance internal operations and efficiencies.



Learning is central to WPCC’s daily efforts to equip all individuals with skills, knowledge, and attitudes to be active citizens in the community. Education is an exciting process that exposes all individuals to new ideas and concepts that foster a passion for lifelong learning.



WPCC values a culture of belonging that respects the perspectives and contributions of all people. We intentionally deliver an educational experience that provides all individuals with access to the resources necessary for their success.



The foundation of WPCC is an atmosphere of honesty, accountability, reliability, and virtue. We display integrity through transparency in our operations and communications allowing us to better connect with students, our community and each other.

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. That same year, WPCC was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 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.

From 1981 to 2005, Dr. Jim A Richardson served as the fourth president of the college. A planning and evaluation process was implemented to improve management practices and 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.

During this time, 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 and, one year later, in Fall 2007 construction would begin for WPCC's Emergency Services Training Center. This 17,500 square foot Health Sciences building opened in January 2008, which included classroom space for chemistry, medical assisting, medical laboratory technology and nursing. This building would later on be re-named in 2015 to be known as Jim W. Burnett Hall.

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

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.

WPCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 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 following Dr. Jim Burnett who retired after 41 years of service.

A new strategic plan was developed and completed in 2015 after a yearlong effort involving students, faculty and the community. The five year plan (2016 - 2021) included a new vision statement and was 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 located 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 was scheduled to open in 2021. Additionally, the College unveiled a new marked trails system on campus for walkers, runners and bicycle enthusiasts to enjoy.

On March 19, 2020, the Western Piedmont Community College Board of Trustees named Joel D. Welch, Ph.D., PE, the seventh president of the college, following Dr. Helmick's retirement. On May 4, 2020, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced that Dr. Welch was selected as one of 40 leaders for the 2020-21 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. This Fellowship is a highly selected leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. 

In 2021, WPCC completed development of Vision 2025: The 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. The five year plan included a new vision and mission statement and is centered around four focus areas including equitable access & success, learning outcomes, completion and transfer and post-graduate outcomes. In April 2021, the Golden Leaf Board of Directors awarded $1.5 million through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to WPCC to assist in the construction of a 30,000 square foot Skilled Trades Solution Center with labs and classroom space to house the construction trades program. This same year, WPCC added new technology by installing a Heavy Equipment Simulator on campus to give students the opportunity to operate machinery in a virtual environment and launched the PACE: Partnership For Apprenticeship and Career Exploration program. Additionally, a food pantry was installed on campus in partnership with Burke United Christian Ministries. 

A Groundbreaking Ceremony was held in April 2022 and construction began on the new Skilled Trades Solution Center with an anticipated opening date of Fall 2023.

Later that year, WPCC completed renovations which transformed a classroom space into the Clay W. Richardson, MD Family Medicine Training Office. This interactive classroom space was made possible by the family of Dr. Clay Richardson who gifted The Western Piedmont Foundation with a monetary donation to honor his life and legacy. Medical Assisting students for generations to come would now be able to practice in a hands-on environment. 

In this same year, WPCC's Alpha Gamma Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa announced the chapter's recognition as a Three Star Level Chapter. PTK is an international honor society that recognizes the academic achievements of two-year college students and provides opportunities for its members to grow as scholars and leaders. 



Academic Calendar 2023 - 2024

Dates are subject to change.

Fall 2023

BLET Fall 2023 Semester Begins August 4

Fall 2023 Registration Ends

August 10

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments    

August 15

Schedule Adjustments End    

August 18

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed    

September 4

"B" Term Registration Begins September 25

"A" Term Ends/"B" Term Registration Ends

October 9

No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Workday

October 10

“B” Term Begins

October 11

Spring 2024 Advising & Registration Begins

November 1

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

November 10

No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Non-Workday   

November 22

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

November 23-24

Winter Term Begins December 1
BLET Fall 2023 Semester Ends December 8
No Tuesday Classes/Friday Classes Meet December 12

Classes End

December 12

Grades Due December 13
Spring 2024 Advising Ends December 13
Winter Term Ends January 3

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

Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Registration Ends

January 4

BLET Spring 2024 Semester Begins January 5*

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments

January 8

Schedule Adjustments End

January 11

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed

January 15

 "B" Term Registration Begins February 19 

“A” Term Ends/”B” Term Registration Ends

March 4

 No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Workday March 5

“B” Term Begins

March 6

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed April 1
No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Non-Workday April 2-5

Summer 2024 Advising & Registration Begins  

April 8

Fall 2024 Advising & Registration Begins

April 8

Maymester Begins May 6

Classes End

May 7

Grades Due May 8


May 10

Maymester Ends May 31
BLET Spring 2024 Semester Ends June 12*

*Amended 10/18/23

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

Summer 2024

2024 Summer Registration Ends

May 16

Classes Begin/Schedule Adjustments

May 20

Schedule Adjustments End

May 21

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed May 27
"B" Term Registration Begins June 10

“A” Term Ends/”B” Term Registration Ends

June 17

“B” Term Begins

June 18

No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Non-Workday

July 1-3

No Curriculum Classes/College Closed July 4 
No Curriculum Classes/Faculty Non-Workday July 5 - 7

Classes End

July 22

Grades Due

July 23



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

Performance Report - 2022

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 2022 Performance Measures for Student Success report published by NCCCS.  Seven measures are evaluated with established baseline and excellence levels.  Baseline levels are set two standard deviations below the system's average index score, and excellence levels are set one standard deviation above the system’s average index score.  The average band is within 0.5 standard deviations above or below the average index score.  In the most recent report, WPCC students exceeded the excellence level on three measures, were below excellence but above the system average band on three measures, and were within the average band 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 individuals with low literacy skills are progressing academically toward credential or employment.

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of Basic Skills periods of participation (POP) with a measurable skill gain (MSG).

Results:  2020-2021 Basic Skills Student Progress










2)    Student Success Rate in College-Level English Courses

Purpose:  To ensure students are successfully completing a credit-bearing English course within their first three academic years.

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of first-time fall associate degree seeking and transfer pathway students passing a credit-bearing English course with a “C” or better within three years.


Results:  2018 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 three academic years.

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of first-time fall associate degree seeking and transfer pathway students passing a credit-bearing Math course with a “C” or better within three years.


Results:  2018 Fall Cohort Student Success Rate in College-Level Math Courses










4)   First Year Progression

Purpose:  To ensure first-year students are making progress toward credential completion.

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of first-time fall credential-seeking curriculum students who graduate prior to or enroll in postsecondary education during the subsequent fall term.


Results:  2020 Fall Cohort First Year Progression










5)   Curriculum Completion

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

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of first-time fall credential-seeking curriculum students who have graduated, transferred, or are still enrolled during the fourth academic year with 42 successfully completed non-developmental hours.


Results:  2017 Fall Cohort Curriculum Completion










6)   Licensure and Certificate Passing Rate

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

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of first-time test-taker passing licensure and certification exams within each exam.  Exams included in this measure are state mandated exams which candidates must pass before becoming active practitioners.


Results:  2020-2021 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 university or college.

Description:  Index score based on the percentage of community college associate degree completers and those who have completed 30 or more articulated transfer credits who subsequently transfer to a four-year university or college during the fall semester who graduate prior to or remain enrolled at any four-year college or university the subsequent fall semester.


Results:  2019-2020 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. The College's goal by 2030 is to be 11% higher than the national benchmark. Note that the 2030 report will reflect the 2024 Fall Cohort. (Statement amended 5/23/23.)


NSCH 6 Year Completion Rates 2023