Dianne G. Lynch, a member of the Western Carolina University administrative staff since 1995 and the senior executive staff member in the Office of the Chancellor for the past 10 years, is recipient of one of the university’s highest honors.
Lynch, who will be retiring from WCU at the end of May, becomes only the 10th person in university history selected to receive the Trustees’ Award. The Board of Trustees bestowed the award upon her as part of the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, March 1.
The Trustees’ Award is presented only on rare occasions in recognition of exemplary service to the university, Joan MacNeill, board chair, said in announcing the award.
“Dianne more than meets the criteria for this award,” MacNeill said. “Any time that Dianne Lynch is involved in a project, you can rest assured that it will be done to perfection. She makes it all look effortless, but we all know the large amount effort that she puts into everything she does.”
As chief of staff, Lynch has overseen a variety of high-priority university events and projects, including numerous commencement ceremonies, the Chancellor’s Speaker Series, Fall Opening Assembly activities, and chancellor’s installation events in March 2012.
Lynch has served as a liaison between the chancellor and elected officials at the local, state and federal level and to the University of North Carolina General Administration. She also oversaw the renovation of the Chancellor’s Residence and the H.F. Robinson Administration Building lobby, and co-chaired the university’s organizational structure review process.
“She has spearheaded so many important projects over the years, all with exceptional grace,” MacNeill said.
During her time at WCU, Lynch has provided invaluable counsel to two chancellors, and played an important role in the transition of institutional leadership from former chancellor John W. Bardo to the university’s current leader, David O. Belcher.
“Throughout the transition in leadership and during my first 20 months as chancellor, she has been a rock of support,” Belcher said. “Dianne has incredible institutional memory, but she also has a keen vision of where this institution can go. She has been a marvelous asset to this university, and she will be impossible to replace.”
Lynch announced in December her plans to retire in the spring after a 37-year career with the state of North Carolina, including leadership roles for nearly 20 years with the Jackson County School System. She joined the administration at WCU in 1995 as director of the university’s Equal Employment Opportunity Programs before becoming assistant to the chancellor in January 2003. Lynch was promoted to the role of chief of staff in July 2005.
Prior to joining the WCU administration, Lynch held positions in the Jackson County School System, including director of secondary and vocational education from 1991 to 1995, director of vocational education from 1986 to 1995, and food service director from 1976 to 1978.
She has taught at WCU, Lenoir Community College, Sylva-Webster (now Smoky Mountain) High School and in the Anderson County School System in Clinton, Tenn.
A seven-member committee has begun the process of searching for a successor to Lynch.
Reporting directly to the chancellor, the chief of staff is a member of the university’s senior leadership team, is a member of the Executive Council and provides coordination for the achievement of strategic directions, goals and initiatives for the Chancellor’s Division.
The new chief of staff will be coming on board as the university begins the first phase of a process of institutional restructuring. In addition to serving as the principal aide to the chancellor on important university operational matters and leading the university’s government relations activities, the chief of staff will oversee WCU’s communications and public relations functions and a new marketing unit that is being formed from several existing offices.
Past recipients of the Trustees’ Award are Wallace Hyde, E.J. Whitmire, Barbara B. Coulter, Ruth C. Shuler, Burton B. Fox, Judy H. Dowell, Rich Kucharski, George “Chuck” Wooten and Clifton B. Metcalf.