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Excitement and purple attire filled the second floor of A.K. Hinds University Center at Western Carolina University March 1 as students, administrators, faculty, staff and trustees alike gathered around a pop-up TV studio set to broadcast the good news — the launch of a massive scholarship fundraising effort, occurring simultaneously with announcement that WCU had received a $5 million scholarship gift, the largest ever in its 129-year history. 

An enthusiastic friend of students. A die-hard fan of all things Catamount. An efficient administrator, effective political advocate, willing traveler and collaborative partner in meeting the needs of students, faculty, staff and the region as a whole.

The 21-member committee charged with finding the next chancellor of Western Carolina University kicked off the search process with an all-day meeting Friday, Jan. 19, to discuss the task ahead and their role in completing it.

Western Carolina University announced the appointment of a 21-member search committee that will recommend a successor to Chancellor David O. Belcher.

By David Belcher • Guest columnist

I had the privilege of presiding over Western Carolina University’s Dec. 16 commencement ceremonies and witnessing the great emotion and sense of accomplishment among the graduates. A point of pride at this December’s commencement was that nearly half of the fall graduating class hails from the 18 westernmost counties of our state, a reflection of WCU’s impact on Western North Carolina.

There is no bigger highlight in the university calendar than commencement day. Commencement signifies WCU’s ultimate purpose and the fulfillment of our fundamental responsibility: the education of our citizens across a broad spectrum of disciplines for thoughtful, productive leadership in our society.

Business as usual was a difficult thing to achieve at the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees meeting Friday, Dec. 1.

After battling brain cancer since April 2016, Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher announced Nov. 27 that his treatment is no longer working. He will go on medical leave and does not expect to return to his position.

Before white settlers corrupted the name to Cullowhee, the land along the Tuckasegee River south of Sylva was known to the Cherokee people as “Joolth-cullah-whee,” or Judaculla’s place.

Through careers as students, teachers and administrators, David and Susan Belcher have marked the milestones of their lives in college campuses, but their 2011 arrival to Western Carolina University was the day they discovered their home. 

“It was kind of instant. It was kind of love at first sight,” Susan said. “It’s not the (natural) beauty. It’s the people. And it’s the community also. This region takes care of each other, through and through.” 

jacksonBy David Belcher • Guest Columnist

Voters in Jackson County will have the opportunity on Tuesday, June 7, to take an important step toward addressing some significant infrastructure problems being faced by Southwestern Community College and Jackson County Public Schools.

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