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Belcher brings unique skills to new post as WCU chancellor

The last time David Belcher played publicly was about a year or so ago, when he paired with cellist Melita Hunsinger of the Arkansas Symphony orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19.

When a pianist accompanies a soloist, a delicate give and take must occur. Listening, adjusting, assisting and leading — all this, and more, must happen for the performances to succeed, and for beautiful music to result.

Those same skills — listening, adjusting, assisting and leading — are evidenced in Belcher’s leadership style. The 53-year-old classically trained musician will become chancellor of Western Carolina University beginning July 1.

Belcher described himself as a consensus builder, a leader who makes decisions only after first seeking the wisdom and opinions of those working with him.

“My M.O. is a consultative approach,” said Belcher, adding that he’s not shy, however, about making unpopular decisions independently if that’s what is needed in a given situation.

Those collaborative skills are likely to be put to the test as soon as he takes over. The university is facing gargantuan budget cuts because of trickledown from a $2.4 billion state shortfall, making for difficult choices about which programs — and people — stay, which go.

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The budget difficulties have provoked inner dissension on campus among faculty and staff. Some members of the faculty haven’t been silent about their dissatisfaction with what they’ve described as heavy-handed, administrative-driven decision-making.

Belcher said economic hard times “will force us to make some really hard choices. We’re going to have to continue to make strategic choices about what we will, and will not, do.”

The incoming chancellor said he wants to develop “a shared vision” with faculty, staff, students and the community about WCU’s future.

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