Staff Senate adds to expressions of gratitude to former provost

The Western Carolina University Staff Senate added its official stamp of gratitude for former Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar for serving as the institution’s chief executive officer in an interim capacity during the illness and following the death of late Chancellor David O. Belcher.

Staff Senate approved a resolution of appreciation Friday, Sept. 27, specifically calling out Morrison-Shetlar’s emphasis on the role of staff and the importance of professional development opportunities.

Officers of WCU’s Staff Senate meet with Alison Morrison-Shetlar (second from left) during the Sept. 30 reception held in her honor. The officers are (from left) Natalie Broom, past chair; Alison Joseph, current chair; and Ben Pendry, chair-elect.

The Staff Senate action follows on the heels of a similar resolution of appreciation for Morrison-Shetlar approved previously by the Faculty Senate.

Both Enrique Gomez, chair of the Faculty Senate, and Alison Joseph, chair of the Staff Senate, read aloud from the respective resolutions during a campus reception to recognize Morrison-Shetlar for her service as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. The event was Monday, Sept. 30, in the Star Lobby of the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

“Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar deepened the university’s commitment toward the staff role in Western Carolina University’s shared governance model and demonstrated consistent and substantial efforts to support the development of staff, faculty and students across the university community throughout her tenure,” Joseph said, reading from the Staff Senate resolution.

“The Staff Senate at Western Carolina University wishes to publicly declare thanks and appreciation to Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar for her significant and lasting contributions at Western Carolina University and recognize the legacy of her leadership herein,” she said.

Both resolutions acknowledge Morrison-Shetlar for the work she accomplished since her arrival at WCU as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in January 2014, and for serving as acting chancellor when Belcher began taking medical leave Jan. 1, 2018. She became interim chancellor upon Belcher’s death in June 2018, and returned to her role as provost and chief academic officer with the July 1 arrival of Kelli R. Brown as WCU’s 12th chancellor.

Morrison-Shetlar left the Office of the Provost effective Tuesday, Oct. 1, and will be assuming a position as a faculty member in the Department of Biology next fall after a period of research leave.

“It has been an honor to serve at WCU this last five-and-a-half years in so many different capacities. I really appreciate the sentiments and recognition. However, this is not about my achievements, but rather about what we have achieved together for our students,” she said to the crowd assembled for the campus reception.

“It is because we have worked together that we have been successful. So, these accolades need to go to you as well because together we have made a difference in people’s lives,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “As I go on research leave, join the ranks of the WCU faculty and continue as a strong advocate of student success in a different capacity, I want to thank you for, and urge you to continue, your support of WCU students, faculty and staff.”

Richard Starnes, dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences since April 2013, is serving as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs while the university conducts a national search for its next provost.