Clifton Metcalf, vice chancellor for advancement and external affairs at Western Carolina University, received on Jan. 24 the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award in recognition of his contributions to the state of North Carolina.
Former Lt. Gov. Walter H. Dalton and former N.C. Rep. Phil Haire presented Metcalf with the honor on behalf of former Gov. Beverly Perdue during a campus celebration of Metcalf’s 54-year career in journalism and higher education.
Metcalf, who will retire Feb. 1, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, worked in the newspaper business and spent more than two decades in leadership positions within the University of North Carolina system.
Dalton commended Metcalf for his service to state and country, and noted that he was well-respected for his commitment and his achievements. “There is no better name in North Carolina than the name Clifton Metcalf,” said Dalton.
A resident of Haywood County, Metcalf earned his bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1959, where he studied journalism as a Morehead Scholar. His 30-year career in journalism included serving as executive editor of The Mountaineer newspaper in Waynesville, where he began working as general assignment reporter in 1961.
He then began working to improve the quality of higher education. Within the UNC system, Metcalf served in leadership roles in university and legislative relations at UNC-CH, public affairs at Appalachian State University and public affairs and state government affairs for the UNC system’s Office of the President, said Chancellor David O. Belcher.
As vice chancellor for advancement and external affairs at WCU for the past 11 years, Metcalf was integral to the first successful comprehensive fundraising campaign, the early development of WCU’s Millennial Campus and Initiative, building relationships with elected officials and fostering growth of WCU’s annual Mountain Heritage Day, said Belcher.
“In everything he has done, he has demonstrated his love for and commitment to the people, not just of Western Carolina University but of Western North Carolina, the region this university serves and the region he holds closest to his heart,” he said.
Haire said Metcalf so regularly visited legislators on his mission to improve education that Haire set aside a chair in his office for Metcalf “because I knew he would be by and want something for the betterment of Western Carolina University.”
Metcalf’s family members read letters of gratitude and congratulations to Metcalf at the celebration from Molly Broad, former president of the UNC system and current president of the American Council on Education; former Gov. James Holshouser; and Gen. James F. Amos, current commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Through your lifelong dedication to serving others, you truly epitomize the Marine Corps axiom of ‘making Marines, winning battles and developing quality citizens,’” wrote Amos in the letter.
Presented to Metcalf with the letter from Amos was a flag that flew in Metcalf’s honor over the Iwo Jima Memorial on Jan. 1, 2013, the same day that the Order of the Leaf Pine was signed by Purdue. Created in 1965, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the highest honors the governor can present to North Carolinians. It is designed to recognize individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state as exhibited by contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations.
Metcalf said he was touched and that although he was retiring from WCU, he was not retiring from life or from North Carolina.
“There will be another chapter,” he said.