This fall I celebrate my third anniversary at WCU and I’m looking forward to the first normal campus year in Cullowhee since 2019. We started this fall with regular in-person instruction, a full complement of campus events and a robust and dynamic campus environment. WCU can finally reorient itself to the distinctive culture that makes us so unique – that resilient optimism that provides a nurturing and supportive campus culture for our students, our faculty, our staff and our community.
WCU has much to celebrate, despite the lingering challenges of the pandemic. Our legislative agenda was incredibly successful and we are grateful for the ongoing support of the North Carolina General Assembly. Our faculty and staff, the beating heart of WCU, received much needed salary increases over the budget biennium. In addition, we received $35 million to renovate the historic Moore Building, which has been dormant for more than a decade, as well as another $12 million for much needed repair and renovation of other campus buildings.
In May, we celebrated the Class of 2022, the largest graduating class in the university’s history and the first class to fully benefit from the NC Promise tuition reduction program that began in the fall of 2018. NC Promise continues to allow WCU to further its commitment to making a high-quality college education both affordable and accessible to all.
We are refreshing and renewing WCU’s focus on our mission and our vision. I am asking everyone in Catamount Nation to rally behind the vision of WCU as a model for public comprehensive universities serving rural regions, an innovative driver for the social and economic mobility of our students. We can break the barriers to student access and opportunity, and leverage the expertise of our faculty, staff and students to confront the most challenging social and economic issues of our time.
This is why the expansion of our engineering and health care programs is so critically
needed for our region and state. This is why the excellence of our STEM programs,
our education programs, our business and fine and performing arts programs is so vitally
important. This is why providing a robust student experience, including a strong athletics
program, is essential to building community on campus and off. We are providing opportunities
for economic and social prosperity. We are changing the lives of our graduates and,
in turn, changing the lives of their families and their communities. This was the
promise of our founding in 1889, and it is the promise of our future.
I think you will see examples of this promise, this work in action, on the pages that follow. I hope you, WCU’s loyal alumni, will feel a sense of pride about the positive direction we are heading as you read the colorful and informative stories throughout this magazine.
But I’m also asking you to do more than just read about the work happening here. I’m asking you today to tell others about the great things we are doing at your alma mater. You are the best ambassadors to tell the WCU story. And that story is worth telling.
For WCU to be a preeminent regional comprehensive university, to be the answer for higher education in our state, to be the answer for workforce needs in your community, for WCU to graduate students from excellent programs with minimal debt — we must tell our story. By telling our story, we honor our promise to those who came before and to those whose future we work to secure today. And isn’t that the best reason of all?
Kelli R. Brown