Tomorrow, the Western Carolina football team plays their first home game. The team is looking to get on track after dropping the first two games to open the season. And one thing is a given.
The Catamount faithful will be out in full force.
But something else is happening tomorrow. It’s more or less a tradition that Chancellor David Belcher initiated when he took the university helm during my freshman year of 2011. The new class will get to run out of the tunnel at E.J. Whitmire Stadium and leave a footprint on Bob Waters Field.
This footprint will never fade. It is permanent, concrete.
But there is a valuable lesson for the Class of 2017 to remember in all this. Tomorrow you will run on the field for your first college football game. Then, when you think about that time, it will be years down the road.
Time doesn’t stop for anyone and it won’t change now.
I look back on my first football game when I got to have the same experience. I remember it like it was yesterday. But it wasn’t yesterday. It was two years ago.
Where has the time gone? People say this all the time and I’m no different. Growing up isn’t something we want to do, but that is our reality.
I have missed opportunities in my life. I haven’t been seeing the big picture, only fragments. Tomorrow, the freshman class won’t be thinking about these things.
I didn’t think I would either. I charge the Class of 2017 to be a part of Catamount nation tomorrow and run across that field with angst and excitement.
But after that, be mindful of time.
The footprint you leave on the field will stay eternal. Just take it from a junior who started his first football game in the same position.
When you finally look back at where you started, you will almost be at the end.
Belcher has already made dramatic change on the campus of Western Carolina after joining the campus on July 1st last year. Student and faculty members comment on what they think of Belcher and the energy he has brought to Western Carolina University and if he is the right future for this campus.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Bright and early Tuesday morning, March 27, the Belchers started the day by having breakfast with students in the WCU cafeteria. Around 50 students were surprised to see the Chancellor and his wife joining them for breakfast.
The event was part of the week of festivities for the installation of David O. Belcher as the 11th Chancellor in the history of WCU.
Michael Rimmer contributed to the story.
The launch of the WCU Catafount was a huge success with approximately 300 students, faculty, and local residents on hand to view the big splash.
Chancellor David Belcher was on hand and in the dancing spirit as he busted a few moves for the crowd when a flash mob appeared. The flash mob began its routine to the famous Michael Jackson song “Beat It”. They danced a few more routines until the fountain exploded signaling the finale.
WCU basketball player Brandon Boggs joked, “He was out here dancing. I don’t know what move he was doing but he was out there full of energy.”
In all, the event was a huge success. Many people loved the chancellor’s energy and praised his interaction with the students. Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Kellie Angelo Monteith, believes that this should become a WCU tradition, one to be embraced by alumni and future students alike.
Nick Randone contributed to the story.