WCU ready to celebrate 125 years

It was August 5, 1889 that Western Carolina University began to take shape.

18 aspiring teachers filed in for the first day of class at what was then a primary school called Cullowhee Academy.

At the time, Cullowhee Academy was nothing more than an unpainted schoolhouse with two rooms.

The only instructor, Robert Lee Madison of Virginia, made a salary of $40 a month.

Boy, do things change.

125 years later, one schoolhouse has transformed into a full-fledged university that is 10,000 students strong.

Perhaps you've noticed one of these banners hanging around campus? Photo by: Ryan Keys

Now the faculty, staff, and students of WCU are ready to celebrate all of the progress that has been made.

It all begins Thursday in the Grand Room of the University Center at 12:25 p.m.

The kickoff event will include a fashion show featuring special designs commemorating the 125th anniversary, as well as games, giveaways, and birthday cake.

Festivities will continue that night, as the Catamount men’s basketball team takes on Davidson in the Ramsey Center.

The anniversary has inspired an entire campaign by various departments and organizations on campus.

To assistant vice chancellor of health and wellness Kellie Monteith, the goal extends way beyond celebrating.

“We not only will be remembering Western Carolina’s legacy and history, but also will be celebrating how far we have progressed as an institution over the past 125 years.”

In order to celebrate, many participants must first learn about the university’s history and progress.

“If they were to take the time and even just look at the bullet points of the major events that have happened,” said SGA president Ryan Hermance, “I think they would be more prideful and more spirited.”

Built in 1939, Breese Gymnasium was WCU's first basketball arena. It is one of the university

With events spanning throughout the year, the kickoff event will be the first of several opportunities to be a part of the 125th mania.

WCU has launched a new website, featuring event information and a historical timeline. The website can be found here: https://wcu.edu/celebrate125/index.html.

With any luck, the 125th celebration may write a page of its own in the history books.