WCU wins three awards from higher education organization for videos, crisis management plan

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher gets a hug of support at a campus gathering. One of WCU’s CASE awards was for its series of “Chancellor’s Health Updates,” which informed various university constituencies about Belcher’s condition after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late April 2016.

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher gets a hug of support at a campus gathering. One of WCU’s CASE awards was for its series of “Chancellor’s Health Updates,” which informed various university constituencies about Belcher’s condition after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late April 2016.

A national higher education organization has honored Western Carolina University’s communications, marketing, external relations and development teams for their work on video projects illustrating the need for a new science building and for additional scholarship support, and for their efforts to keep the university community informed during a health crisis involving the university CEO.

WCU received three awards during the recent District III competition of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, presented during the organization’s annual meeting Tuesday, Feb. 7, in Nashville, Tennessee.

A project titled “Lead the Way,” produced in support of an October 2015 summit to kick off the leadership phase of an upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign, received the Grand Award, the competition’s top honor, in the category of electronic and digital media/fundraising video. The production was designed to bring to life the impact that donations for scholarships can have on students and to illustrate the need for increased support for scholarship assistance at WCU. The video tells the stories of students who were able to pursue their educational and career dreams because of support from private scholarships, and the stories of students struggling to make ends meet.

CASE presented an Award of Excellence to WCU for its series of “Chancellor’s Health Updates” that were designed to inform various university constituencies about the condition of Chancellor David O. Belcher after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late April 2016, and to keep the campus community updated throughout his treatment process. The plan involved the use of website updates, email communications to the campus and to key external audiences, and a social media effort through which members of the university community could express support and best wishes. The award was in the category of crisis/issues management plan.

A second WCU video, titled “The Need for a New Science Building at Western Carolina University,” received a Special Merit Award, also in the fundraising category. The video, conceived by WCU’s director of external relations, was intended to inform elected state leaders and University of North Carolina General Administration officials about the need for a replacement for WCU’s 1970s-era Natural Sciences Building. It later became the centerpiece of a statewide effort supporting the successful $2 billion Connect NC bond campaign, which sought voter approval of funding for public higher education projects, including $110 million to replace WCU’s dilapidated science building.

“I am pleased to see our university’s marketing, communications and public relations, external relations and development teams recognized by their colleagues for what they do to support and advance the mission of Western Carolina University,” said Chief of Staff Melissa Canady Wargo. “It is especially gratifying to know that their collaborative work compares favorably to what is being done at institutions both large and small, both public and private, across the Southeast.”

The annual CASE competition recognizes achievements by educational institutions in advancing their respective missions. Region III of the organization, the second largest district in the CASE association, consists of institutions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The organization received more than 1,000 entries from across the region in this year’s competition.