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Lenoir-Rhyne offers graduate program in Asheville

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8/29/2012 - Lenoir-Rhyne offers graduate program in Asheville
by Casey Blake - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- A new program for graduate students, complete with high-tech classrooms, now shares a building with the Chamber of Commerce.

Nine different graduate programs are under way at the Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies, a 12,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that occupies almost half of the Montford Avenue building, on its second and third floors.

Lenoir-Rhyne is a private university in Hickory, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It has about 1,850 students at the Hickory campus, including about 1,600 undergraduate students.

The school's new center, which began classes last week, hosts about 100 graduate students pursuing degrees in everything from sustainable business to arts entrepreneurship.

The facility, which Lenoir-Rhyne bought for more than $2 million, was constructed and designed specifically for the university's purposes, complete with digital projectors, multimedia labs and local artwork lining the halls.

"We wanted to collaborate with the community to assess what was really needed in this area from day one," said Paul Knott, director of the center. "It has really only been 13 months from start to finish in seeing this come to fruition, so it's exciting to already have the opening day here."

The programs are all designed for adult students balancing school and work, Knott said, and classes will be held in the evenings, on weekends and online. The center will operate on a rolling enrollment system, and the next admission deadline is Oct. 1, for classes in early 2013.

The center will offer everything from a masters of arts degree in writing to degrees in health care, including what the school says is the country's only dietetics internship with a focus on childhood obesity.

Other programs will focus on degrees in the creative arts, including writing courses led by poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Laura Hope-Gill.

"In coordinating the Master of Arts in Writing Program, I have the opportunity of a lifetime," Hope-Gill said.

"Most people who know me know I am as devoted to the disciplines of research and rhetoric as to the wild and beautiful nuances of the language," she said. "I believe in rigor and scholarship as tools for supporting each student's search for and attainment of his or her writing goals.

"The students of the Master of Arts in Writing Program will work hard, read widely and develop their powers of inquiry as well as assertion. I have the honor of helping them do that."

Most classes will be taught by in-house professors, but some program options will include online courses and classes taught via a two-way interactive video screen by professors on the Hickory campus.

"It has always been a big focus of ours to fill voids and meet needs specific to this area and this community," Knott said. "And this is a very creative community with a lot of unique, niche business opportunities."

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