Belcher: A breath of fresh air

Genuine, passionate, excited, energetic, and visionary are all terms used to describe David O. Belcher, Western Carolina University’s 11thchancellor, during Thursday’s installation ceremony.

Almost a year ago the “super hero” team of David and Susan Belcher began making their impact on the WCU campus and have more in store for the future.

David O. Belcher was installed as WCU's 11th Chancellor Thursday, March 29, 2012

The themes of Thursday’s installation included the topics of the future for Catamounts, WCU’s faculty, staff and students being a family and taking WCU to the next level.

To be able to lead a university into the future you must be able to “take pride in the past but acknowledge the potential for the future,” said UNC System President Thomas Ross.

“From the first second I met him there was no doubt he was the right person to lead now and into the future,” said Ross.

Other dignitaries referred to the Belchers as “The super hero team we needed,” and expressed how his characteristics on the paper application were not only fitting, but revealed in person by his personality and passion for education.

Erin McNelis spoke on behalf of the WCU faculty and family closing her greeting with excitement saying “We now have a Chancellor whose blood is truly purple.”

photo by meredith oakley

Dignitaries came from around the state and country to welcome Chancellor Belcher at WCU

In his installation address Belcher spoke about the future of Western and where he plans to lead it in the coming years.  He had five main goals, concerns and strategies that he plans to address in the coming years.  One of those being the financial state of our university.  Speaking about budget cuts, job losses and loss of financial aid, he plans to do all he can to not let our University be affected by these troubles.

His fourth goal is to “value, expect, and embody excellence” on the campus of WCU.  During that he mentioned “WE WILL have a winning football team,” to which the crowd responded in applause and laughter as this was a comic relief to the more serious topics he had been covering.

His fifth goal is to take care of the staff at WCU, and not just financially. When speaking of finding money for faculty jobs and preventing job loss due to budge cuts Belcher stated “I pledge to you to be a squeaky wheel searching for grease.”

He charged the faculty and staff to find colleagues better than themselves to push the university forward as well as encouraging alumni to create endowed scholarships in their name and field.    Allowing students to have a seamless education and allow students to further their education in hard economic times is something Belcher plans to focus on.

“Talent and brain power and terrible things to waste… it is time to give back so they [future students] can pursue their education,” said Belcher.

The ceremony took place in the Ramsey Center at WCU and was open for the public to attend

To close off his address he states how he wants Western Carolina to be “an ambitious university,” and to keep producing great things. “Be the master of your verbs,” Belcher exclaimed.

Belcher described Cullowhee as “A beautiful slice of heaven,” and believes we have just begun to tap into the knowledge here.

The atmosphere of the entire event was excitement, anticipation, and hope for the future.  A new breath of life is alive in Cullowhee and the campus of Western Carolina University.

As Belcher put it “Our imagination is the limit.”