The University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments will bestow its prestigious William C. Friday Lifetime Achievement Award on David O. Belcher, chancellor of Western Carolina University.
The recognition and other presentations will be made during the 16th annual John L. Sanders Student Advocate Award Dinner on Friday, April 20, at the StateView Hotel on the N.C. State University Centennial Campus.
The ASG’s lifetime achievement award was established in 2010 and is named for William “Bill” Friday, the first and longest serving president of the consolidated University of North Carolina System, and a pivotal figure in public education in the state. The recognition is presented by the student-led organization as it deems appropriate to one public figure who has exhibited exemplary service to the students of a UNC System institution.
“It truly is an honor to be selected to receive the UNC Association of Student Governments’ William Friday Lifetime Achievement Award,” Belcher said. “Indeed, I am doubly honored, as this award is not only named in recognition of one of the nation’s foremost figures in public higher education, one for whom I have long held a deep respect and admiration, but it also is bestowed upon me by representatives of the most important people in our education system, the very people we are here to support and serve – students. I am grateful for this award and will cherish it.”
In his nearly seven years as chancellor, the phrase “we’re in the business of changing lives” has been a trademark comment by Belcher to faculty, staff and the community. During his tenure, WCU enrollment has blossomed as academic programs excelled, and further regional involvement with the university was forged.
The UNC Association of Student Governments and WCU’s representative on the UNC association, composed of representatives from all 17 institutions that comprise the system, approved Belcher as the Friday Award recipient at its March 24 meeting, which was held at WCU. Belcher, who has been battling brain cancer since April 2016, began medical leave last Dec. 31 and does not expect to return to the chancellor position.
Katherine Spalding, president of the WCU Student Government Association, made the nomination. “Chancellor Belcher was an inspiration for the few months I had the blessing of working with him,” Spalding said. “I have yet to meet anyone who bleeds purple more than him ― and to this day, no matter where he is or what he’s doing, he is fighting for Western Carolina University.
“Students across the UNC System know of Dr. Belcher and his work here. All who had personal interactions with Dr. Belcher came away feeling that they were truly appreciated, which speaks for itself. He is one of a kind and he deserves this award more than anyone I’ve met. I am honored to have nominated him and I am not surprised he was chosen,” Spalding said.