Arts & Sciences


Rusty Harrison


Photo of Rusty Harrison with two children

Rusty Harrison with children at the
Upendo Orphanage in Moshi, Tanzania.

I am Rusty Harrison. Years ago, one of my old professors from the Citadel contacted me and asked if I would like to do some adjunct work at the local community college. I agreed to teach four sections of General Psychology back to back in Fall Semester 2004 and I absolutely fell in love with it. I started looking for work as a full-time community college instructor and was fortunate to be hired by Western Piedmont in 2005. Since that time, I have served as Coordinator of the Human Services and Substance Abuse programs, as Department Head for the Health Sciences Division, and currently as a Psychology Instructor in the Arts and Sciences Division. I have chaired numerous committees on campus including the QEP Topic Selection Committee, the Mission/Vision Statement and Academic Rigor Task Forces for the Arts and Sciences Division, the Excellence in Teaching Committee, and I twice chaired the Faculty/Staff Council. I was honored with the Roston Family Endowed Teaching Chair in 2010 and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015. I have conducted workshops and presentations throughout North and South Carolina on a range of topics and recently presented on Holistic Education at the International NISOD Conference in Austin, Texas. I am an avid writer and maintain several websites with over 50 articles on psychology, philosophy, and self-help.

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Western Carolina University in 1984 and my Master’s in Psychology from The Citadel in 1991. In the past, I was employed as Staff Psychologist for Cleveland County Mental Health and later as the Director of Behavioral Services for the Disabilities Board of Charleston County. I did a short stint as a radio talk show host for a program called “Psychobabble” and I maintained a Counseling Therapy Private Practice in Charleston for 10 years.

As a holistic educator, I believe the macro should inform the micro. The goal of education should always be to consider the whole person. A learner functions best when growth is promoted equally across all of life’s domains (intellectual, social, emotional, and physical). Each learner affects the health and functioning of society as society affects the health and functioning of the learner. I consider the primary role of the teacher as one who, through healthy relationships with learners, influences and nurtures a culture of collaborative, dynamic, investigative, and creative involvement. Students will learn that which is purposeful and personally meaningful. This is my guidepost as an educator.

I am a member of the North Carolina Community College Sociology and Psychology Association and presented at their annual conference in 2017. I am Vice President and a founding member of the Morganton Humanist Alliance. I helped develop the MHA Ronno Cook Memorial Scholarship for residents of Burke County who wish to attend WPCC. As MHA members, my wife Erica and I have helped maintain a local stretch of highway, donated and planted trees in downtown Morganton, and donated time and funds to LGBT Burke, Equality NC, the Meeting Place Mission, The House of Refuge, Saturday Suppers to Feed the Hungry, and the Foothills Conservancy for North Carolina. After a trip to Africa, Erica and I independently sponsored a project to help provide gear for Tanzanian runners and funds for the Upendo Orphanage in Tanzania.

I am a man of many passions. I love to sing, pick guitar, travel, learn, garden, go on outdoor adventures, work out, ride motorcycles, and spend time with friends and family. Few things give me more pleasure than a deep, meaningful conversation that sparks new ideas.