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Shetland Society faculty, staff giving campaign to kick off Sept. 15

shetland society

Chancellor Kelli Brown (right) takes part in a ceremonial "high noon stroll."

It was 23 years after the founding in 1889 of the educational institution known today as Western Carolina University that campus leaders purchased a set of Shetland ponies to haul supplies from Sylva to Cullowhee so that faculty and staff could better serve a growing student population.

Fast-forward 133 years from the birth of “the Cullowhee Idea,” and 375 faculty and staff who go beyond their work toward the success of students and the enrichment of the mountain region by making financial contributions to WCU are recognized as members of the Shetland Society.

One of four giving societies established by the Division of Advancement in 2020 to celebrate the impact of philanthropy, the Shetland Society acknowledges faculty and staff gifts made on an annual basis. A campaign to increase faculty and staff membership in the society kicks off Thursday, Sept. 15.

The campaign, which will continue through October, includes a faculty and staff giving challenge. Each WCU college and division will have a “Giving Champion,” a volunteer who has committed to encouraging his or her colleagues to give back to WCU. The campus unit with the highest participation rate of donors will receive the Faculty/Staff Giving Champions Trophy. The goal for this year’s effort is to increase faculty and staff participation rate by 5 percent.

At the conclusion of the campaign, faculty and staff donors will be recognized during the second annual Shetland Society Day, set for Monday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the courtyard adjacent to Balsam and Blue Ridge residence halls.

The event will include distribution of “thank you” gifts and Shetland Society membership decals to participating faculty and staff, free snacks and refreshments, and a ceremonial “high noon stroll” by Chancellor Kelli R. Brown and a pair of Shetland ponies. The winner of the Faculty/Staff Giving Trophy will be announced just before noon.

For more information, contact Rebekah Cheney, director of annual giving, at 828-227-2868 or via email at

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