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WCU Stories

Chancellor Brown inspires faculty and staff during Fall Opening Assembly

By Benny Smith
fall opening assembly22

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown

When WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown walked onto the Performance Hall stage of Bardo Arts Center last Wednesday, she peered into a packed auditorium of faculty and staff eager to hear expectations for the 2022-23 academic year. It was the first time in two years the university was able to revert to its normal seating arrangements for Fall Opening Assembly prior to COVID-19 protocols.

“I’m so glad you’re here today,” Brown told the crowd. “Whether you are brand new to WCU or entering your third or fourth decade here, the year ahead is full of promise. To be sure, we will have our challenges. But WCU’s story is one of grit, perseverance and choice.”

In a TED Talks-style format, Brown gave faculty and staff a glimpse of what she sees “on the horizon” for WCU during the 2022-23 academic year. The following are highlights Brown mentioned as key areas of focus:

  • Sense of Community: Brown said WCU will make it a priority to renew a sense of community across campus. “Renewing community is important,” she said. “Community is the defining element of Western’s culture. In the last two and a half years, many have felt disconnected. We must make it a priority to reengage everyone across the campus community” This fall WCU has a full slate of campus activities and events scheduled to welcome more than 4,000 on-campus students.
  • New Brand Campaign: WCU will be launching a new brand campaign, “Live Western,” this fall. The purpose of the campaign is to bring more awareness to the university’s academic programs and student experience to areas throughout the state. The campaign will include many different ads, print materials, etc., across all print, web and social platforms. “Our brand must reflect our mission and vision, and have staying power,” she said.
  • Comprehensive Campaign:. Brown said the Honoring our Promise fundraising campaign will provide the resources to provide affordable and accessible academic excellence, student experience and funds to help us continue to be an economic driver in the region. Renovations of athletic facilities as a key element of the student and community experience is also a priority of the campaign. “Our students and the community will be the ones who will benefit from this campaign,” she said.
  • Enrollment and Student Success: Brown informed the crowd that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions delivered a robust freshman class this fall and will soon be charging hard” towards meeting WCU’s enrollment targets for next fall. “Enrollment this fall is looking great with regards to our incoming freshman class, which may be one of our largest ever, but the effects of the pandemic and demographic shifts over the past couple of years will continue to impact overall enrollment, which will likely be slightly down this year.” She also mentioned that William Moultrie, the new associate vice chancellor of Student Success, and his team will be working to renew efforts to Finish in Four, improve academic advising and bolster student retention.
  • Academic Initiatives: Provost Richard Starnes will be leading Academic Affairs in meeting the demands of the new Educational Career Realignment or ROI study recently enacted by the NC General Assembly. He will also be evaluating programs that may be potential candidates for Project Kitty Hawk, the University of North Carolina System’s online program management system, targeting adult learners.
  • Campus Theme – Mental Health and Wellness: Brown told the group there is a reason that mental health and wellness emerged as the top contender for the campus theme this year. “The pandemic and the accompanying economic and social roller coaster we’ve all been on the last several years have had tangible and detrimental effects on mental health and wellbeing,” she said. This year, I hope you will take advantage of the many events and activities that will coalesce around the campus theme. At the institutional level, we continue to look for ways to expand services and provide support.” She went on to outline a new benefit for employees for on demand mental healthcare through a partner called Ginger who offers virtual mental health counseling.

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