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WCU Board of Trustees present Craig Fowler with highest honor

Craig Fowler

WCU's retiring chief information officer, Craig Fowler (center), was presented the Trustees' Award by WCU Board of Trustees chair Kathy Greeley (left) and Chancellor Kelli Brown.

By Julia Duvall

After 15 years of serving as Western Carolina University’s chief information officer, Craig Fowler is retiring.

In recognition of his exemplary service to the university, WCU’s Board of Trustees presented its highest honor to Fowler during the quarterly board meeting held on June 14.

The Western Carolina University Trustees’ Award is presented only on rare occasions. This award has been given just twice in the last five years. The last person to receive the award was David Powers, a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, in 2023.

“I feel exceptionally fortunate to have had a career path that brought me to WCU and blessed to have spent these 15 years here,” Fowler said. “Western is such a special place that it just becomes a part of you and that feeling comes out in the way everyone approaches the work of the university.”

Fowler joined WCU in July 2009 as the university’s chief information officer. Hired by late WCU Chancellor John Bardo, Fowler became the university’s first CIO to serve on the Chancellor’s Executive Council. His extensive and varied business background brought the position of CIO to a new level.

In the intervening 15 years since his arrival at WCU, Fowler served with distinction under three permanent chancellors, one interim chancellor and eight board chairs.

“During his time as CIO, Craig built the Division of Information Technology into the highly efficient, well-regarded department it is today,” WCU Board of Trustees chair Kathy Greeley said. “His commitment and focus on client services, organizational effectiveness, risk management and asset management has contributed to the professionalism that IT is known for across campus and beyond. Moreover, Craig is known for his full-throated advocacy for IT staff and his care, compassion and sense of humor.”

Notable examples of Fowler’s accomplishments include co-chairing the Chancellor’s task force on administrative restructuring in 2012; serving on the campus master planning committee in 2012-2013; creation and implementation of the university’s data warehouse; supporting the creation of Catamount CATalytics; foundation and support of WCU’s cybersecurity efforts and risk management; the streamlining and improved efficiency of PawPrint, the university’s centralized print services; and the creation and support of the Tech Commons and IT Help Desk in Hunter Library.

“Receiving the Board of Trustees’ Award is truly an outstanding honor and is the absolute highlight of my IT career,” Fowler said. “It also represents the efforts and accomplishments of the entire staff of the IT Division, and the determination and support that they have for the university’s mission and its students.”

Other past recipients of the Trustees’ Award are Susan Belcher, Senator Tom Apodaca, Wallace Hyde, E.J. Whitmire, Barbara B. Coulter, Ruth C. Shuler, Burton B. Fox, Judy H. Dowell, Rich Kucharski, George “Chuck” Wooten, Clifton B. Metcalf, Dianne C. Lynch, Mary Ann Lochner and Terry Welch.

“Craig Fowler has more than epitomized the meaning of the phrase ‘exemplary service and support,’” Greeley said. “Without question, WCU has been greatly enriched by his commitment to our university.”

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