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WCU Board of Trustees elect Casey Cooper as its chair

By Marlon W. Morgan

Western Carolina University’s Board of Trustees elected Casey Cooper as its chair during a special called meeting Wednesday, July 10, replacing former chair Kathy Greeley, who was recently appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

casey cooper

Casey Cooper

Cooper, the chief executive officer of Cherokee Indian Hospital, is the first known member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to be selected to chair WCU’s Board of Trustees.

“I was thinking about that old saying, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in their own hometown,’” Cooper said. “There is no greater honor than to be recognized by your friends, your family and your peers. I can’t tell you how it warms my heart to know you have faith and trust in me. You can be sure my love and my passion for WCU is unrelenting. And my commitment to Western Carolina endeavoring to constantly pursue regional significance in Western North Carolina is unwavering.”

Cooper has been involved in American Indian health care for 25 years. He has served the EBCI and its community since 1993 as a primary care nurse, community health nurse, nurse educator and nursing manager. As the health director of the EBCI from 1999 to 2004, Cooper helped shape public health policy with a focus on chronic disease prevention and led a communitywide initiative to assume the management responsibilities of the CIH from the Indian Health Services through an Indian Self-Determination Agreement.

becky brown

Rebecca Brown

Prior to being appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2018, Cooper served on WCU’s Board of Visitors.

The BOT also selected two other officers, appointing Rebecca Brown as its vice-chair and Joe Crocker as secretary.

Brown joined the BOT in 2020. She previously served on WCU’s Foundation Board (2019-20), Alumni Board of Director’s (1995-97) and the Catamount Club Board (1980-82). She received her bachelor’s from WCU in business administration in 1971.

joe crocker

Joe Crocker

Crocker is also a WCU alum with a degree in business administration. He retired in 2019 and was appointed to the BOT in 2021. Crocker previously worked as the director of Local Impact in Forsyth County at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. He is well known for his civic career across the Carolinas.

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