WCU’s Whee Lead Alumni Challenge exceeds goals, raises more than $133,000

Western Carolina University’s Whee Lead Alumni Giving Challenge set a goal to gain 400 new or returning alumni donors by Friday, April 22.

The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs has announced the challenge exceeded that goal, with 443 alumni contributing $64,444 for student scholarships and academic programming.

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Chancellor David O. Belcher, Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar and WCU’s Board of Trustees and Foundation Board also pledged to contribute another $20,000 or more if the challenge was achieved. The goal having been met, they donated more than $69,000, bringing the total to $133,658.

“The WCU Board of Trustees is grateful for the increasing support of our alumni,” said Ed Broadwell, of Asheville and trustees chair. “Each alumnus participating is important. We have a long way to go, but a 10 percent increase during the challenge tremendously adds to the momentum we need.”

The campaign utilized alumni alerting former classmates through social media platforms (with assistance provided for text and images), emails, phone calls and old-fashioned face-to-face conversations.

“First, many thanks to those 443 alumni for stepping forward to make this challenge a success,” said Dale Sims, a 1978 WCU graduate residing in Franklin, Tennessee and foundation chairman. “Their action is an affirmation that those who know WCU the best, her alumni, understand the key role WCU has played in their lives. Alumni support ― at any giving level ― is vital in ensuring the university fulfills its mission of creating learning opportunities that sustain and improve individual lives and enhance economic and community development in Western Carolina University and beyond. It’s a big mission that calls on support from engaged alumni to fulfill.

“Thanks are also due to Western’s leadership team, including the chancellor, our provost, trustees, foundation members and others who gave generously to create this challenge opportunity.”

The challenge began Tuesday, March 29, which basically provided four weeks of fundraising opportunities.

“This was about alumni participation, community engagement and Catamount pride. Those gifts will support deserving students and strengthen academic excellence,” said Claire Burns, WCU’s director of annual giving. “Spreading the word among friends, through social media and a general call for support by alumni put us where we needed to be. And then some.”

Those who missed out on participating in the alumni challenge or who want to continue their support can make a donation at any time. Support from alumni always counts and always makes a difference, Burns said. To make a contribution or learn more about the Whee Lead Alumni Challenge, go to wheelead.wcu.edu or contact her at cjburns@wcu.edu or 828-227-2868.