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Dr. Richard Starnes appointed permanent provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs

To the Western Carolina University community:

Provost Richard Starnes


I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Richard D. Starnes, former dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences who has been serving as interim provost since last October, as our next permanent provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. This appointment, approved by the Board of Trustees during a special called meeting yesterday, is effective immediately.

Dr. Starnes quickly distinguished himself as the top contender in an extremely deep pool of candidates for this important position at this critical time. As an alumnus who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WCU, as a faculty member, and as former dean, he has incredible institutional knowledge. Born and raised in Western North Carolina, he is intimate with the mountain region this university was founded to serve. And, as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for 25 years, he possesses a calmness under fire, which has helped this institution immensely as we navigate the complexities of operating during the global COVID-19 health crisis.

I thank Dale Carpenter, professor of special education and former dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, and the 12 other committee members for their work in bringing forward a strong slate of candidates and for staying the course despite the difficulties of running a search during a pandemic. More information is available in this news release posted online.

Kelli R. Brown

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