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Week of activities to culminate with installation of Kelli Brown as WCU's chancellor

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown

Editor's Note: Due to the coronavirus, the chancellor’s installation ceremony scheduled for Friday, March 27, and other installation week activities are postponed until further notice.

Kelli R. Brown will be installed as chancellor of Western Carolina University during a formal ceremony Friday, March 27, capping a week of activities designed to spotlight the university’s impact across the mountain region and the role WCU will play in the future of North Carolina.

William L. Roper, interim president of the University of North Carolina System, will preside at the installation ceremony, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

The installation ceremony is the traditional academic ritual at which the chancellor takes the oath of office. The event is typically attended by UNC System officials, state legislators and other elected state and federal officials, academic delegates from other institutions, representatives of professional organizations and honor societies, and members of the campus and surrounding communities.

A 30-member steering committee is in the process of planning the ceremony and other installation week activities centered on the theme “Honoring Our Promise.” The committee is co-chaired by Richard Starnes, interim provost, and Melissa C. Wargo, chief of staff.

“Chancellor Brown has asked the steering committee to plan activities that do not focus solely on her or on the office of chancellor, but that honor the traditions of WCU’s past and its present while also engaging members of the campus community in imagining the university’s future,” Wargo said.

In the face of the state’s budget impasse, Brown also asked the committee to plan a “fewer-frills” series of events, Starnes said. “Chancellor Brown feels strongly that, although the installation would not utilize state funds, it would project the wrong message to hold a multi-event celebration in light of the budget uncertainty,” he said. “The committee has worked to identify a mix of regularly scheduled activities and a small number of new events that help showcase the university and the region.”

Installation week activities will kick off with a “Paint the Town Purple” event starting at noon Saturday, March 21, in Sylva and Dillsboro. Sylva also will host a community reading and reception beginning at 4 p.m. Monday, March 23, at the Jackson County Public Library. The installation celebration hits Asheville that same day with a 6 p.m. reception for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends in the Asheville community; the event will be held at WCU’s Biltmore Park instructional site.

Activities resume at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, with the Chancellor’s Catamount Cookout before the Catamount baseball team’s game against visiting Gardner-Webb University, followed by the annual Undergraduate Research Exposition beginning at 5 p.m. in the Ramsey Center.

In recognition of Brown’s status as the first permanent female chancellor or president of WCU, the American Association of University Women will hold a by-invitation-only luncheon Thursday, March 26. The annual Graduate Research Symposium will kick off at noon that day in the A.K. Hinds University Center.

Activities on Thursday conclude with a performance showcase featuring students and faculty from WCU’s David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts, along with regional performers and community friends. The show will include selections from the School of Stage and Screen's upcoming production of “Bring It On,” as well as the Cherokee Chamber Singers and other vocal and instrumental performances. Admission to the showcase is free, but seating is limited and tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The official installation ceremony will cap the week. The ceremony is open to the public free of charge, and faculty members who teach classes that conflict with the installation are encouraged to make alternative assignments that will allow students to attend the event in lieu of their regular classes. A reception will be held in the Ramsey Center concourse following the conclusion of the ceremony.

Brown was named Western Carolina’s 12th chief executive officer last April by the UNC Board of Governors. She assumed her duties on July 1.

Events and times are subject to change. More details about the Celebration Events and the Installation Ceremony are available at

The installation events are being supported by private donations. To make a contribution, visit

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