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Donors turn out online to support annual ‘I Love WCU’ month



Western Carolina University’s “I Love WCU” campaign for 2021 wrapped up Feb. 28 with more than $500,000 in gifts to the WCU Foundation to support scholarships, endowments and other funds across campus for students and faculty.  

The fifth annual campaign, which runs the month of February, received 886 gifts totaling $547,585 from 807 donors and featured stories about WCU’s diverse alumni and the launch of the Shetland Society, a new giving society for faculty and staff. All gifts from WCU employees along with all 1889 Club memberships received since July 1, 2020, were included in the totals. 

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Division of Advancement could not hold in-person, on-campus events to celebrate the campaign, but it did host a drive-through breakfast on Feb. 24, serving 600 breakfast sandwiches and burritos to faculty and staff, and to volunteers working WCU’s COVID-19 regional vaccine clinic. Students, faculty, friends and alumni also celebrated “I Love WCU” month with special online messaging.

“Our goal with our fifth annual ‘I Love WCU’ celebration was to infuse encouragement and gratitude across the WCU family. We were thrilled to feature stories on our outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni and the impactful work they are doing for our campus and our region,” said Jamie Raynor, interim vice chancellor for Advancement. “We made the most of our celebration during a pandemic with robust online engagement, the launch of our Shetland Society for faculty and staff donors, and a drive-through ‘thank you’ breakfast for all faculty and staff. We are grateful, daily, for the philanthropic support of our deserving students and programs.”

During the campaign, Donna Winbon, chair of the WCU Foundation Board, issued a leadership challenge that resulted in gifts from 57 board donors from the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, Alumni Board and Catamount Club Board. “I was thrilled and humbled at the generosity of our leadership boards through this ‘I Love WCU’ giving challenge. Their generosity helps solidify WCU’s impact on students who attend the university that we all love,” she said.

Named for the cart and Shetland ponies that then-WCU Chancellor A.C. Reynolds purchased in 1912 to haul supplies from Sylva to campus, the Shetland Society, which now has 299 members, celebrates the employees who work hard for the university delivering goods to its students and the greater community. “Not only are they going above and beyond for our students, but as donors, they encourage a spirit of philanthropy as well, which contributes to our overall success as an institution,” said Jodi John Pippin, director of donor relations. “I am just so proud to be a part of a community full of hard-working people who embody a mission and vision that make a difference in the lives of others.”

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