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News Education Myron Coulter, WCU chancellor emeritus, loses battle with cancer at 82

CULLOWHEE – Myron L. Coulter, chancellor of Western Carolina University from 1984 until 1994, died Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer.

Coulter, known to friends and colleagues by his nickname of “Barney,” guided Western Carolina for a decade characterized by a renewed emphasis on excellence in teaching, strategic planning and goal-setting, service to the Western North Carolina region, and outreach to the international community.

During his tenure as chancellor, the university established the Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence, later renamed the Coulter Faculty Commons for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in recognition of his support of the center’s efforts both as chancellor and, upon his retirement, as chancellor emeritus.

As part of his emphasis on global outreach, Coulter led delegations to The Netherlands to establish a partnership in business education with Hogeschool West Brabant, to China to set up agreements for educational and cultural exchange with Yunnan University, and to Thailand, Swaziland and Jamaica to create and strengthen agreements for vocational, technical and teacher training.

An active community leader, Coulter served on the board of directors of Western North Carolina Tomorrow, the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching, N.C. Board of Science and Technology, Western North Carolina Development Association, Center for PVO/University Collaboration in Development, C.J. Harris Community Hospital, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, WCQS Public Radio, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the N.C. Arboretum. He was a member of Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee Historical Association and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

He served as chairman of the board of directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in 1988-89 and was a founding member of the board of directors of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. Among his other professional appointments were the Commission for a Competitive North Carolina, Inter-American University Council for Economics and Social Development, and Governor’s Task Force on Aquaculture.

Coulter came to WCU from Idaho State University, where he was president from 1976 to 1984. He previously served Western Michigan University in a number of administrative positions, including vice president for administration from 1974 to 1976; interim president in 1974; vice president for institutional services from 1968 to 1974; and associate dean and professor of education for the university’s College of Education from 1966 to 1968.

He previously was associate professor of education at the Pennsylvania State University from 1964 to 1966, director of Penn State’s Latin American Education Project from 1962 to 1963; and instructor of education at Indiana University from 1958 to 1959. He also was an elementary school teacher in the Bloomington, Ind., Metropolitan Schools from 1954 to 1956, and an English teacher and athletics coach at Reading, Mich., Community High School from 1951 to 1952. He served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954.

Coulter earned a master’s degree in elementary education in 1956 and doctorate in education in 1959, both from Indiana University. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1951 from Indiana State University, where he majored in English, physical education and science in secondary education. He received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1982 from the College of Idaho.

A native of Albany, Ind., Coulter lived in Waynesville after his retirement as chancellor. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Bolinger Coulter; twin children, Nan and Benjamin; and granddaughters Mary Elizabeth Coulter and Abigail Kristine Coulter.

Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville will announce arrangements.


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