Under the leadership of Chancellor David O. Belcher, Western Carolina University has seen phenomenal success. Enrollment is at an all-time high and climbing. Our entering GPA continues to rise. Retention is up. Graduation rates are up. And, our campus is expanding dramatically.
We must be champions for our students, believe in their possibilities, inspire their determination, knock down obstacles in their way and lead them toward a better future.
Chancellor Belcher has not accomplished this alone. He has done it by stirring a spirit of determination in each of us. He has dared us to believe in the possibilities before us, no matter what obstacles we face. He has propelled this institution toward greatness, but, more importantly, he has done the same for the students we serve. Now, we must continue the progress he put in motion.
We will do this by following Chancellor Belcher’s lead and making student scholarships our top philanthropic priority, as it has been his. Join us in a campaign inspired by our greatest champion. Lead the Way.
As our enrollment has grown, so has the need on our campus. The percentage of students eligible for Federal grants and aid, as determined by their family’s ability to contribute to the cost of college, has continued to rise year-to-year. In 2016-17, our students and their families took on $71.4 million in debt to afford the cost of college.
Meanwhile, our academic reputation continues to climb as does the percentage of students deserving of merit-based assistance. We are competing with the best universities in the state for top students from our region and beyond, and our scholarship resources are far too short. This year, we will have students entering our 2018 class with a 4.0 GPA who do not receive merit-based scholarship offers.
Since beginning the leadership phase of the Lead the Way Campaign in 2014, our alumni and donors have stepped up and given even beyond expectations. In 2014, we set a goal of $50 million raised for scholarships by 2021, and we are already at 90 percent of that goal. So, with your support, and inspired by Chancellor Belcher’s ambitious leadership, we are expanding the priorities and setting a new goal and a new timeline.
We will raise $60 million by Spring 2019.
Thank you to those who are supporting the expanding priorities set forth by Chancellor Belcher and leading the way for us to reach our goal of $60 million dollars by Spring 2019.