CULLOWHEE – Led from a dark stretch limousine by the sounds of a wailing bagpipe, John W. Bardo and wife Deborah joined a lawn full of faculty, staff, students and other friends at the A.K. Hinds University Center on Monday, April 25, to celebrate Bardo’s 10 years as chancellor of Western Carolina University.
Speaking on behalf of the university’s Board of Trustees, Steve Warren praised the chancellor for a “new language” of success that has marked Western since his tenure began in 1995. Warren called it “empowering…dynamic…and uplifting,” and he cited rising student enrollment, higher grade point averages and retention rates, and increasing support for development and endowments as examples of Bardo’s success.
Steve Woody, former chair of Western’s Board of Trustees and chair of the search committee that selected Bardo as its “overwhelming favorite,” thanked the chancellor for his decade of service.
Newt Smith, chair of the Faculty Senate, commended Bardo for a “very exciting” 10 years. From the start, Smith said, the chancellor convinced the faculty that they were better than they thought they were and quite capable of raising the bar to improve academic quality at Western.
Heather List, a senior from Charlotte majoring in interior design, drew a big laugh from the chancellor with her opening remark, “I have not been here all 10 years, so you know you’re doing something right.” List said she felt “blessed” to have served as Student Government Association president during Bardo’s administration, and she praised him for being so accessible to her and to other students while he was busy with other university business.
When it came time to respond, Bardo noted that he began as chancellor of Western in 1995 with three major tasks – to make the university bigger, to make it better and to do something to help the western region of the state.
He turned the spotlight back on the faculty and staff – from those who mow the lawn to those who help students learn – who are helping him to meet those three challenges as Western moves forward into the future.
Finally, Bardo thanked his wife for her encouragement and support. Then, together, they joined the party on the lawn, complete with printed proclamations, buttons, balloons, refreshments and performances by the Catamount Chamber Singers, Pep Band, Dance Team and cheerleaders.