Homecoming festivities at Western Carolina University will have a different feel this fall, as the individual who has helped organize one of the biggest campus events for the past 19 years will no longer be serving as master of ceremonies.
That’s because Marty Ramsey, WCU’s director of alumni engagement, is retiring effective Oct. 1 after a career spanning more than 28 years at his alma mater.
A graduate of WCU with a bachelor's degree in business administration, Ramsey literally grew up on the university’s campus. His family moved to Cullowhee in 1964 when his father, Harry Ramsey, who later served as director of WCU programs in Asheville, accepted a faculty position. His mother, Sue Ramsey, worked as a “dorm mother” in Robertson Hall, where he and his sister, Gina, lived in the family’s ground floor apartment during much of his childhood.
After graduating from WCU in 1985, Ramsey worked in corporate sales and management for nine years with Roadway Services, a transportation and logistics company. He answered the call of his alma mater to return to campus in 1994 to become director of the Catamount Club, the university’s athletics fundraising unit.
He remained in that role until 2004, when he was appointed director of alumni affairs, now called alumni engagement. WCU’s longest serving alumni director, Ramsey held the dual role of director of alumni affairs and the Catamount Club in 2003 and 2004.
After growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s with his family In Robertson Hall, Ramsey said he has a particular affection for the upper part of campus during what he called “a magical time.”
“I have fond memories of sitting on the grassy bank at old Memorial Stadium watching Catamount football with my childhood friends, visiting my dad’s office in the Bird Administration Building and sneaking in the Townhouse for a heated honeybun and Coke,” he said. “I knew at a very early age that Western is where I wanted to go to school, Western is where I wanted to work and Cullowhee is where I wanted to live. I’ve been so very blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for my beloved alma mater.”
Having spent more than 50 years of his life intimately associated with WCU, Ramsey possesses a vast pool of institutional knowledge that will be difficult to replace, said Jamie T. Raynor, vice chancellor for advancement.
“The impact of Marty Ramsey and his family’s legacy on this university cannot be overstated,” Raynor said. “From a youngster who made the WCU campus his childhood playground to the man who has been the ‘go-to guy’ for thousands of members of the Catamount family, Marty has helped dramatically increase the involvement of alumni in the life of their alma mater over the past few decades. We are grateful for his leadership and celebrate his accomplishments.”
Ramsey has served as a member of Catamount Athletic Hall of Fame Committee for 28 years and the Chancellor’s Leadership Council for 10 years, and has co-chaired the University Homecoming Committee for 20 years. In his role as alumni director, he has helped introduce three WCU chancellors (John W. Bardo, David O. Belcher and Kelli R. Brown) to alumni across the Southeast and overseen the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
He also established alumni engagement traditions including the annual Purple & Gold Reunion, Legacy Pinning Ceremony and Alumni/Student Job Shadowing Program and, in 2020, launched the Western Wednesdays series to help keep alumni connected online throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During his tenure, the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund has grown from $40,428 to $366,613.
A national search for Ramsey’s successor will launch this summer.