It is hard to imagine that I have been at WCU for two years and most of that time
was spent leading our university through a historic pandemic. Although as challenging
as it has been for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, we
never allowed the pandemic to hinder the work we are doing to deliver a quality, affordable,
The pandemic highlighted the strength and resilience of the WCU community as our excellence in and outside the classroom continued. In talking with a rising junior about the past year and a half, she said, “It has been wild.” Well, wild is one word to describe what she and so many other students have been through. Many students struggled with new ways of learning, being asked to social distance and not be in close contact with friends or family, wear a face covering, and eat out of clam shells in the dining hall. Yet, WCU students continued, sometimes despite setbacks, as they showed grit, determination and perseverance. Faculty and staff worked diligently to engage students when at times they too struggled with the personal and professional impact of the pandemic.
We have recognized our past and now it’s time for us to move forward together and honor our promise with current students by focusing on how we can best support them this fall. This includes you.
I hope you, our loyal alumni, will feel a sense of pride about the positive direction we are going as you read these colorful and informative stories throughout this magazine.
As I begin my third year at WCU, the three priorities I originally outlined – academic excellence and quality, economic development, and diversity and inclusive excellence – are more important now than ever as we slowly recover from a pandemic that has been the most disruptive event in our university’s history.
All of these priorities are a part of seven that our Board Trustees adopted as part of the newly revised strategic plan aptly titled, “Honoring Our Promise.” I strongly believe we can reach this destination of becoming the best regional comprehensive university in the Southeast by using this plan as a guide. The revised strategic plan builds on important gains, learned from our successes and failures. It is tempered by internal and external realities, while confidently presenting bold, yet feasible strategic priorities.
I cannot do this alone. I need help from each and every one of you. Tell your friends and other students about the great things we are doing here at your alma mater. You are the best ambassadors we have to tell the WCU story.
As I look to the future, I see WCU being stronger than ever. This will require us to reimagine Western Carolina University as we honor our promise by cherishing the past and embracing the future.
Kelli R. Brown