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Senior Leadership Fellows Program prepares for second cohort

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The WCU Senior Leadership Fellows Program will wrap up its pilot year this fall and begin seeking nominations for a new cohort to begin in January 2023.

The program began last January with an inaugural class of eight faculty members and eight administrative staff from across the university. A joint effort between the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Provost, the program is a WCU investment in a ‘grow our own’ experience that aims to build a cohort of campus leaders who are ready for the challenges and opportunities of senior leadership roles. It is also designed to provide practical and applicable content in becoming a senior academic or administrative leader.

The initial cohort of Senior Leadership Fellows explored topics related to budgeting and funding, institutional governance and structure, crisis leadership and conflict management, institutional identity and executive leadership perspectives. Fellows were also provided opportunities to attend the regional leadership tour, board meetings and other specialized training and events.

Faculty and staff interested in becoming a Senior Leadership Fellow in 2023 are expected to have the support and endorsement of their immediate supervisor and/or dean (for faculty) who will then inform their division head (i.e., provost, vice chancellor, chancellor) by Wednesday, Aug. 31. Division heads will provide nominations to the selection committee – a call for those nominations will be issued Sept. 1. Questions about the program should be directed to Carol Burton (, vice provost, or Melissa Wargo (, chief of staff. 

Members of the inaugural class were:

Betsy Aspinwall – associate dean of students, Student Affairs (Note: Betsy was associate director of CAPS when she started the program)
Heather Mae Erickson – associate professor, School of Art and Design
Mary Fischer – associate director of advising, Academic Affairs
Nancy Ford – director of employee relations, Talent Acquisition and Management, Human Resources and Payroll
Mariano Garrido-Lopez – director of graduate programs/associate professor, College of Business
Ivy Gibson – associate general counsel, Legal Services
Carmen Huffman – associate dean/associate professor, College of Arts and Sciences
Wes Milner – Global Engagement
Amy Murphy-Nugen – associate professor, Social Work
Kyle Pifer – deputy athletics director, Catamount Athletics
Benny Smith – executive director of communications and marketing, University Communications and Marketing
Darius Stanley – assistant professor, School of Teaching and Learning (Note: Darius departed WCU and is no longer here or participating)
Robert Walker – director of campus services, Student Affairs
C.Y. Wang – associate dean/professor, College of Health and Human Sciences
Yanjun Yan – associate professor, School of Engineering and Technology
Katie Zejdlik – assistant professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology

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