Drake, Messer to join WCU Board of Trustees

Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp., are the two newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors elected Drake, of Franklin, and Messer, of Greenville, S.C., to four-year terms on the WCU board. The UNC system governing body also re-appointed current trustees Edward Broadwell Jr. of Asheville, retiring in November as chairman and CEO of Home Trust Bank, and Southern Pines businessman George Little to four-year terms.

The appointments, effective July 1, are contingent on submission of statements of economic interest and vetting by the State Ethics Board. The UNC board is scheduled to confirm the appointments at its June meeting.

A native of Franklin, Drake began developing tax software in 1977. His companies now employ more than 500 people in businesses that include accounting, retail, software, dining, theater, golf, printing, Internet service, family entertainment, construction and fiber optics.

A frequent guest speaker for business students at WCU, he was a member of the WCU Millennial Initiative Select Committee, which helped develop strategies for the university’s comprehensive regional economic and community development effort.

Messer is global business director of specialty chemical and packaging at Milliken & Co. in Spartanburg, S.C. A 1986 graduate of WCU, he is a past president and member of both the WCU Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Catamount Club Board of Directors. Messer served on the search committee that helped select David O. Belcher as chancellor in 2011 and was part of the 2020 Commission, a 36-member committee that led a strategic planning process to guide the university’s direction and development over the next decade.

Drake and Messer will fill vacancies on the WCU board created by the departure of Jackson County community leader Joan MacNeill, current chair of the trustees, and former N.C. Sen. Steve Metcalf, president of the Policy Group Inc., both of whom will reach the end of their terms June 30.

MacNeill, a co-founder and former president of the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Dillsboro, was recently named by the N.C. Senate to the 32-member UNC Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors selects a total of eight trustees for each campus of the UNC system, and the governor appoints four. Appointments from the governor are forthcoming. No trustee may serve more than two full four-year terms consecutively.

In addition, the president of the WCU Student Government Association is an ex-officio member of the WCU Board of Trustees.