It’s February and that means big love for Western Carolina University during the “I Love WCU” celebration.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Division of Advancement will host a drive-through breakfast from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Big Cat Lot #10 next to the E.J. Whitmire Stadium, for all faculty and staff. A limited number of surprise giveaways will be given out during the breakfast, said Jonathan Brooks, director of annual giving.
This year’s goal is to engage as many faculty, staff, alumni, students, parents and friends as possible through social media, email and personal outreach. “We want to spread the message that our alumni come from very diverse backgrounds and that there are tons of ways to re-connect to WCU through our geographic clubs and chapters, and our newly created LatinX and military affinity groups,” Brooks said.
In addition to highlighting special alumni, this year’s celebration also will feature a new giving society for faculty and staff and mentoring opportunities for WCU students.
“We are particularly excited about the launch of the Shetland Society, which is exclusive to faculty and staff who donate annually. Many are already members and just don't know it, so we are looking forward to celebrating their membership and encouraging all other employees to join the Shetland Society by June 30,” Brooks said. “The Shetland Society membership is annual, and gifts made July 1 to June 30 of any amount to any fund will qualify an employee for membership into the Shetland Society.”
Named for the cart and Shetland ponies that WCU and then-Chancellor A.C. Reynolds purchased in 1912 to haul supplies back and forth from Sylva to campus, the Shetland Society celebrates the employees who work hard for the university delivering goods to its students and the greater community. Because it recognizes WCU faculty and staff donors at all levels, the Shetland Society is a symbol of innovation and dedication, traits that WCU’s faculty and staff exemplify through their generosity. Learn more about the Shetland Society at give.wcu.edu/shetland.
WCU students looking for a great way to get to know the university and its alumni are urged to apply to be a Chatty Cat Engagement Officer. Students will serve as ambassadors and personal representatives of WCU, its programs and the Division of Advancement, while building relationships with constituents, raising money and offering updates on university events. Students can apply to be an engagement officer online. Students can improve their professional skills and gain knowledge from WCU’s accomplished alumni through the newly launched P.A.W.S. Mentorship Program. Interested students may contact Toni Nelson, assistant director of Student and Young Alumni Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alumni who want to become active members of their local club or chapter can contact Beau Busby, assistant director of Alumni Engagement at email@example.com.
Alumni interested in becoming an active member of one of our affinity groups can contact Elizabeth Qualls, coordinator of Affinity Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The pandemic may be interrupting our ‘I Love WCU’ in-person events, but that doesn't mean we can’t still celebrate our community and the philanthropic impact they've had on our students and programs,” Brooks said. “We want to spread the message that there have never been more opportunities to get involved with WCU as an alumna or alumnus than right now.”
To support “I Love WCU,” visit give.wcu.edu/love.