University provost will be returning to faculty, effective Oct. 1

Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli R. Brown has announced that Alison Morrison-Shetlar, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will be departing from that role effective Oct. 1 and will be assuming a position as a faculty member in the Department of Biology.

Brown made the announcement in a message to the campus community Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Morrison-Shetlar arrived at WCU as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in January 2014. She also served as the university’s acting chancellor when Chancellor David O. Belcher began taking medical leave on Jan. 1, 2018. She then became interim chancellor upon Belcher’s death in June 2018, returning to her role as provost and chief academic officer with the July 1 arrival of Brown as WCU’s 12th chancellor.

She also served as interim vice chancellor for advancement from Oct. 1, 2015, until June 5, 2016.

“In her 18 months leading this institution in an interim capacity, Dr. Morrison-Shetlar helped guide WCU through the implementation of the NC Promise tuition plan, navigate the complexities that come with enrollment growth and constant campus construction, and steer to a successful conclusion a comprehensive fundraising campaign honoring the legacy of Chancellor Belcher,” Brown said.

“As I have learned since I took the office of chancellor on July 1, she was instrumental in ensuring that this university maintained its positive momentum,” she said. “I am confident that she is leaving the Division of Academic Affairs well-positioned for the future.”

Morrison-Shetlar will begin her teaching duties next fall after a period of research leave approved by the WCU Board of Trustees in a special called telephone meeting Sept. 18.

Richard Starnes, dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences since April 2013, will serve as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs while the university conducts a national search for its next provost. “With his vast institutional knowledge, his deep connections to the Western North Carolina region and his strong leadership skills, Dr. Starnes is well-qualified to serve as interim provost,” said Brown.

Plans for the launch of a national search for a permanent successor will be announced soon, she said.

Morrison-Shetlar came to WCU from Elon University, where she had served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2010. She previously served as vice provost, dean of undergraduate studies and director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Florida and as director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Georgia Southern University.

The Office of the Provost oversees all academic programs of the university, including WCU’s six academic colleges as well as the Honors College, Hunter Library, Graduate School and Research, International Programs, the Cherokee Center and Educational Outreach. The office also leads several student support service units such as advising, registration and tutoring.