When Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan Brummell Belcher announced a $1.23 million commitment to the university’s efforts to provide enhanced scholarship support for WCU students, they did so in hopes of inspiring others to follow suit.
Mission accomplished. Just 16 days after that Oct. 12 announcement, retired banking executive F. Edward Broadwell Jr. and wife Donna Allsbrook Broadwell found themselves so moved by the Belchers’ actions that they have made their own commitment to WCU’s fundraising campaign to the tune of $1 million for scholarships.
Announcement of the pledge, a blend of cash donations and an estate gift, came Saturday, Oct. 28, as Ed Broadwell, former chair of the WCU Board of Trustees, accepted the university’s Distinguished Service Award as part of Homecoming 2017 activities.
“I truly believe that higher education is the great equalizer and the key to upward individual economic mobility. I truly believe that Western Carolina University – through the well-educated graduates that it produces – is vital to the social and economic development of Western North Carolina,” Broadwell said.
“Donna and I agree with David and Susan Belcher that higher education is the stuff of the American dream, as the chancellor puts it. That is why Donna and I have decided to increase our financial support for this incredible university – and for the students who are the heart and soul of this place, who represent the future of our region and our state,” he said.
Belcher said the gift announcement serves as a shining example of the type of leadership, service and sacrifice that are characteristic of recipients of the university’s Distinguished Service Award.
“This announcement reveals Ed Broadwell’s true colors,” Belcher said. “At an event to honor his long record of service to Western Carolina University, Ed, once again, demonstrates his steadfast belief in the power of higher education to improve the lives of the people of Western North Carolina, a region he dearly loves. The support he and Donna are providing to our university will be felt by many future generations to come with this transformative gift.”
An Asheville resident, Broadwell retired as HomeTrust Bank’s chief executive officer in 2013, but he continues to be associated with the bank as chief executive officer emeritus. A longtime supporter of WCU and the other two University of North Carolina system institutions located in the mountains, he was elected to the UNC Board of Governors and served on that body from 1995 until 2007. He then served on the UNC Tomorrow Commission and was elected to the WCU Board of Trustees in 2009. His terms on the WCU board continued through June of this year and included two years as chairman. He and Donna Broadwell joined forces with HomeTrust Bank in 2015 to create a fund to provide significant scholarship assistance annually to deserving WCU students from the region.
Their latest gift, in support of the Ed and Donna Broadwell Endowed Scholarship, will provide significant scholarship assistance annually to deserving students who are graduates of public high schools in WNC, with preference given to residents of Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties.
“Thank you, Ed, and thank you, too, Donna. Just as the Belchers have inspired you to make this transformative gift to Western Carolina University, so you are inspiring others to do likewise,” Robin Parton Pate, president of the WCU Alumni Association, said at the gift announcement. “Ed, you have given your time and your talent to WCU through your service on the system’s Board of Governors and this institution’s Board of Trustees. And Ed and Donna, you both have previously given of your treasure. Today, you are increasing your investment in the students of Western Carolina University, which also is an investment in the future of the Western North Carolina region you so deeply love.
“I feel confident that many other friends and alumni of this university will follow your lead and help continue the great forward momentum that you are building at Western Carolina,” Pate said.
WCU is in the preliminary “leadership” stage of its Lead the Way fundraising campaign. Organizers of the campaign from the university’s Division of Advancement will reveal more details about the public phase of the effort in early 2018. For information, visit the website give.wcu.edu.