Collaborate:

A series of campus conversations

The ink has been dry for more than three years now on Western Carolina University’s 2020 Vision strategic plan. In the last three years, we have made incredible progress on dozens of initiatives and areas for improvement outlined in the plan, but a few immense challenges remain. Chancellor Belcher, with input from the membership of his Executive Council, has identified four areas of great opportunity that would benefit from broad input and creative ideas from across campus: Enhance Campus Diversity, Support Scholarships (The Comprehensive Campaign), Invest in our People, and Improve the Total Experience.

With this in mind, Chancellor Belcher and the Staff and Faculty Senates invite every member of our staff and faculty to consider the challenges and weigh in on the solutions through a series of conversations on these topics. The goal of this series is to work together on the development of a path forward in each of these areas. Join us for COLLABORATE: A series of campus conversations.

Campus diversity

Enhance Campus Diversity

Western Carolina University enjoys broader diversity than our sister institutions here in western North Carolina with more than 20 percent of student body identifying themselves as minority students. But we have a long way to go yet.

As demographics shift among high school students, we need to be prepared to offer an educational environment that welcomes a diverse student population and draws students out of urban population centers. The youth population is climbing in large metro areas but stagnating in our region. Much of that urban growth is minority students, and each freshman class is increasingly more diverse and more global. We need to recruit and retain diverse leadership, align our cultural activities with the needs of a changing student population, anticipate the expectations of students coming to Cullowhee from urban areas, and much more. In order to address these challenges, we need a diverse set of voices at the table and we hope you will be one of them.

Student athlete holding her diploma at Graduation

Support Scholarships (The Comprehensive Campaign)

We know that we must be able to recruit high-achieving students in order to reach our full potential as an institution. We also know we have a tremendous amount of need on this campus with students struggling to scrape together tuition each semester. At the heart of both challenges is the scarcity of scholarships at WCU that address both merit and need.

Western Carolina is the only institution of our size in the UNC system that does not offer a program to specifically address accessibility for deserving students in need. We also, by comparison, have very limited merit scholarship dollars and absolutely no full-ride merit-based scholarships. Other institutions have far greater resources to invest. Case in point: 75 percent of accepted students who chose NOT to attend WCU in the fall of 2015 said they got scholarship offers from their school of choice.

For all these reasons, the top priority of our upcoming Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign will be increasing scholarship support. As we approach this campaign, everyone on campus will have a role to play.

Advising Center employees showing school spirit

Invest in Our People

In recent years, state-supported pay increases have been few and far between. Western Carolina has attempted to address our most dire salary issues by increasing salaries that sit far below market rate. Nonetheless, retention and recruitment continues to be a problem.

In the face of continually limited state support for salary increases, Western Carolina needs to get creative. We need to find ways to develop a rewarding work culture that inspires people, even amid salary competition. We need to find ways to invest in the kind of employee professional development and incentives that our people will find rewarding and motivational. We need your help determining how we can achieve these goals in order to retain our great employees and recruit the leaders of the future.

Improve the Total Experience

Ultimately, what we offer students is not merely a set of courses but a university experience – an experience that will impact who they become after graduation. To succeed in our mission, we have to deliver that total student experience across and beyond the curriculum.

We have delivered on that promise through our tremendous focus on community engagement and service learning, but we still have work to do. We must address the consistency and effectiveness of our advising efforts to help students graduate on time; we must prepare them for their career with robust professional development offerings; and we must ensure they have the support needed to master challenging gateway courses.

In addition, we need to ensure that our students are well-informed about the incredible social and cultural opportunities open to them on our campus and encourage them to take part in these experiences. These are high aspirations that need broader input from across campus.

Collaborate Schedule

First Session: Week of September 21-24

Each meeting will be from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Day Date Topic Location
Monday September 21 Enhance Campus Diversity Blue Ridge Conference Room C & D
Tuesday September 22 Support Scholarships Blue Ridge Conference Room A
Wednesday September 23 Invest in Our People UC Illusions
Thursday September 24 Improve the Total Experience Ramsey Center Hospitality Room

Second Session: Week of November 16-19

Each meeting will be from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Day Date Topic Location
Monday November 16 Improve the Total Experience Blue Ridge Conference Room D
MEETING FULL
Tuesday
November 17 Invest in Our People Blue Ridge Conference Room A
MEETING FULL
Wednesday
November 18 Enhance Campus Diversity Blue Ridge Conference Room A
Thursday November 19 Support Scholarships Blue Ridge Conference Room A

Third Session: Week of February 29-March 3

Each meeting will be from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Day Date Topic Location
Monday February 29 Invest in Our People Blue Ridge Conference Room A
Tuesday March 1 Improve the Total Experience Blue Ridge Conference Room B & C
Wednesday March 2 Support Scholarships Blue Ridge Conference Room A
Thursday March 3 Enhance Campus Diversity Blue Ridge Conference Room A

Biltmore Park Session: Tuesday, November 3

We will cover all four topics during a 2 hour session from 3-5 p.m.

Day Date Topic Location
Tuesday November 3, 3-5 p.m. All four topics Biltmore Park, Room 346

Register

Please select the session topics you would like to attend. In order to maximize the effectiveness of each session, the total number of participants will be limited to 40. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If a session fills, you will be notified to select a different date. In the event that every session for a topic fills, we will add another week-long series in the Spring semester.

Enhance Campus Diversity

Please select one response. (required)

Support Scholarships (The Comprehensive Campaign)

Please select one response. (required)

Invest in Our People

Please select one response. (required)

Improve the Total Experience

Please select one response. (required)

Biltmore Park Session

Please select one response. (required)

Submit an Idea

If you cannot attend one of the in-person sessions, please consider submitting an idea electronically. Responses are anonymous.