Dec. 18 reception scheduled to celebrate contributions of Belchers to WCU, WNC

An end-of-semester reception to provide Western Carolina University faculty, staff and friends an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan Brummell Belcher to the university and the Western North Carolina region is set for Monday, Dec. 18.

The reception will be held from 2 until 3:30 p.m. in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center.

Belcher announced Nov. 27 his decision to go on medical leave at the end of the calendar year after an ongoing battle with brain cancer. He has informed the campus community that he does not expect to return to his duties as chancellor.

David and Susan Belcher

“David and Susan Belcher have delivered leadership, inspiration, enthusiasm, hope and a tireless pursuit of excellence to our campus community over the last six-and-a-half years. Western Carolina University has thrived under their leadership,” said Melissa Canady Wargo, chief of staff. “We hope members of the campus community will join us on Monday to celebrate the Belchers’ contributions to the Catamount Nation.”

The Dec. 18 reception follows an earlier event designed to give students an opportunity to share their warm wishes with the Belchers, who have become well-known as champions for WCU students and their success. The Belchers announced in October a $1.23 million commitment in financial support for student scholarships, which have been the top philanthropic priority during Belcher’s tenure as chancellor.

Several dozen students braved a surprise snowstorm Friday, Dec. 8, that forced the suspension of the last day of classes to make their way to Brown Hall to sip hot chocolate, share hugs and handshakes, sign message cards to be included in a bound book of memories and record greetings to be part of a special video salute to the Belchers.

After Belcher goes on medical leave Dec. 31, Alison Morrison-Shetlar, current provost, will serve as acting chancellor, as appointed by University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings. Carol Burton, WCU’s associate provost for undergraduate studies, will step into Morrison-Shetlar’s shoes by taking the role of acting provost. Both appointments are effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Spellings, who will be participating in WCU’s fall semester commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 16, said she will work closely with Patricia B. Kaemmerling, chair of the WCU Board of Trustees, to plan the launch of a search for a permanent chancellor. Further details of the search process will be shared soon with the campus community.