Campus conversation series to get underway Sept. 21-24

A series of campus conversations centered on four topics identified by Western Carolina University Chancellor David O. Belcher as areas of emphasis for the 2015-16 academic year will get underway Monday through Thursday, Sept. 21-24.

In his Opening Assembly address last month, Belcher characterized the issues – increasing diversity on campus, preparing for a comprehensive fundraising campaign to boost scholarship dollars, enhancing the total student experience, and supporting faculty and staff – as central to WCU’s future success.

The series of discussions is designed to provide campus leaders with input, ideas and possible solutions from members of the university community on issues of diversity, scholarships, overall student experience and employee satisfaction, said Melissa Wargo, chief of staff.

“We have made significant progress on many elements of the university’s ‘2020 Vision’ strategic plan over the past three years, but there are a few issues that have proven more challenging and that demand our attention,” Wargo said. “The four topics for this series of campus conversations have risen to the forefront as we attempt to deal with shifting enrollment and demographic trends, increasing costs of tuition and fees, and increased competition for the top students.”

Conversations will be held in three four-day sessions scattered throughout the academic year, with each of the four topics to be the subject of an afternoon discussion during each session. Each discussion is scheduled to run from 4-5:30 p.m.

The second session will be held the week of Nov. 16-19, and the third session is set for Feb. 29-March 3.

Session one: Monday, Sept. 21, “Enhance Campus Diversity,” Blue Ridge Hall Conference Rooms C and D; Tuesday, Sept. 22, “Support Scholarships,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A; Wednesday, Sept. 23, “Invest in Our People,” Illusions in A.K. Hinds University Center; Thursday, Sept. 24, “Improve the Total Experience,” Ramsey Center’s Peele Westmoreland Suhre Hartshorn Hospitality Room.

Session two: Monday, Nov. 16, “Improve the Total Experience,” Blue Ridge Conference Room D; Tuesday, Nov. 17, “Invest in Our People,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A; Wednesday, Nov. 18, “Enhance Campus Diversity,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A; and Thursday, Nov. 19, “Support Scholarships,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A.

Session three: Monday, Feb. 29, “Invest in Our People,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A; Tuesday, March 1, “Improve the Total Experience,” Blue Ridge Conference Rooms B and C; Wednesday, March 2, “Support Scholarships,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A; and Thursday, March 3, “Enhance Campus Diversity,” Blue Ridge Conference Room A.

The campus conversations are open to all WCU faculty and staff members. The total number of participants will be limited to 40 at each session. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. In the event that every session for a topic fills up, organizers will add another block of sessions in the spring semester.

To register or for more information, visit the website

“This is the time for strategic thinking to ensure that Western Carolina University doesn’t just survive, but thrives in our emerging environment,” Belcher said in his Opening Address remarks. “I don’t have all the answers. Frankly, I’m glad that I don’t. I find that the best solutions and trajectories are those that benefit from give-and-take, debate and brainstorming. We need to all be in this together.”