Welcome to the 2023 version of Western Carolina University’s “The Black Fantastic.” Last year, the University Communications and Marketing team created “The Black Fantastic” to highlight excellence among a few of WCU’s Black faculty and staff members. The project went on to win three platinum awards from the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition that is one of the oldest and largest creative competitions in the world. During Black History Month, we continue that artistic and creative look at some of the people responsible for shaping and mentoring the great minds of the future.
With more than 30 years of experience in higher education, Jane Adams-Dunford is passionate about lifelong learning, diversity and inclusion and being a champion for students. She believes that work in student affairs should promote an environment conducive to growth and discovery. Her diverse experience in Student Affairs includes organizational development, strategic planning, program assessment, leadership development and student access and success.
These are the driving factors of what Adams-Dunford, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, calls her “warrior spirit.”
Known by students as an available and responsive support, Adams-Dunford focuses her energy on creating a career and community centered on meaningful connections. As a first-generation college student, she fully understands the power and importance of those relationships.
Adams-Dunford grew up the youngest child of 13 in Shelby and says she recognized early the sacrifices her parents were making to provide her opportunity for higher education. Because of that, failure was never an option.
She received her undergraduate in computer information systems technology, completed her masters in psychology, and is currently finishing her doctorate in educational leadership.
“The word can’t only exists if you impose it on yourself,” she said. “The example to my six grandchildren starts with me.”
After nearly 25 years at WCU, Adams-Dunford has not waned in her desire to learn and grow. She continues to search out every opportunity to mentor students and help them solidify their voice. "When you have to pause, don't stay still too long," she tells them, a statement of grit and determination that echoes her own journey.
As for what lies ahead, she adds, "I've only just begun."