Board of Trustees hears about record enrollment, budget cuts at WCU

The WCU Board of Trustees met Friday morning in the HF Robinson building for their first meeting of the semester. Photo by Kayla Godfrey

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees opened it’s first quarterly meeting by accepting new members.

The meeting began with a room full of congratulations and smiling faces as five new members of the Board were sworn in by the  assistant secretary to the Board, Terry Welch. These members are: Phil Drake, Phillip Byers, Joyce Dugan, Kenny Messer and John Lupoli.

Soon after, former Vice Chair  Teresa Williams gained the position as the newly elected chair of the Board.

” In a moment of privilege, I must say this is quite an honor,” said Williams. The board also elected Ed Broadwell as Vice Chair, and Pat Kaemmerling as Secretary.

Next came Chancellor Belcher, commenting on the schools progress and the changes to come this school year. He touched on a number of topics, which included the rising student retention rate and the universities budget cuts.

According to Chancellor Belcher, reaching the universities record high number of 10,106 students enrolled at WCU  this fall is attributed to the rising student retention rate, which has grown to 78.7 percent, a five percent improvement from last years rate of 73.7.

Belcher also made sure to praise his faculty and staff members for all of their hard work, stating that they attribute to the retention rates by encouraging and taking care of students.

The budget is another story, unfortunately WCU received a four percent cut or a loss of 3.25 million dollars.
” The budget situation has been a source of great anxiety for all of the university system,” said Chancellor Belcher.

The Student Government Association president Ryan Hermance followed the chancellor’s remarks by charming the board and giving detailed plans for the new school year. Among these plans were a low cost or free trip to the University of Auburn for the football game versus WCU in October, tailgating at home games and having a bigger focus on campus safety which is called the SGA Campus safety initiative.

” Even though Western is generally a safe campus, there are still concerns that students express and one of my major goals this year is to increase the sense of security among students on campus,” Hermance said.

Lastly, the chairs of  the Audit, Foundation, Faculty, Staff and Alumni Association Board committees gave their reports on each of their sectors, naming upcoming events and how other members of the Board can become involved.