WCU announces development, alumni relations leadership change

Jim Miller, associate vice chancellor for development and alumni relations at Western Carolina University, will be stepping down as director of the university’s fund- and friend-raising unit effective Dec. 31.

Miller, who initially came to WCU to lead the university’s development office in 2003, informed his staff on Monday, Oct. 5, that he would be resigning from his position at the end of the calendar year in order to move closer to family members in the Raleigh area.

Miller said he has come to the conclusion that an upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign currently in the early stages would require an additional obligation of time that does not mesh with his and wife Tara’s personal plans to return to family.

“While the emerging comprehensive fundraising campaign represents a significant professional and personal opportunity to help strengthen the future of Western Carolina University, it also would require a six-plus year commitment to see it through,” he said. “That is a timeline Tara and I simply cannot accommodate in light of our desire to assist Tara’s aging parents and be part of our grandchildren’s lives.”

A national search for the next leader of development and alumni relations will get underway as soon as possible. During the transition, WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher has assigned temporary administrative oversight of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs to Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar.

“Jim Miller played a significant role in the successful completion of one campaign at WCU and he will be leaving the university well-positioned for success in the upcoming campaign, one that will focus on increasing the number of endowed scholarship holdings to help ensure access to higher education for all capable students,” Belcher said.

Over the last two fiscal years, the university has increased its fundraising totals through the WCU Foundation by 29 percent and 25 percent, respectively, and alumni participation rates have increased.

The university has added 126 endowed scholarships since Belcher’s installation address of March 2012, when he identified raising money for student scholarships as WCU’s top philanthropic priority.

Miller came to WCU as associate vice chancellor for development in the spring of 2003. His career in professional fundraising began with United Way of Wake County and United Way of North Carolina, followed by 13 years in institutional advancement positions at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.