‘Lead the Way’ fundraising campaign event set for March 1

Western Carolina University will officially launch the public phase of its comprehensive “Lead the Way” fundraising campaign with a kickoff event Thursday, March 1, beginning at 5 p.m. at A.K. Hinds University Center.

The “Lead the Way” launch party will include announcement of the campaign goals and current gifts, including a new leadership gift to the campaign.

The public phase of the fundraising campaign, only the second in the university’s history, is inspired by WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher, who has been on medical leave since Dec. 31, 2017, after battling brain cancer since April 2016.

Belcher announced at his March 2012 installation address that increasing support for endowed scholarships for deserving WCU students would be the top philanthropic priority of his administration. Since his arrival as chancellor, more than 200 new endowed scholarships have been funded.

But that represents just a good start, and the public phase of the “Lead the Way” campaign is designed to honor Belcher’s legacy by encouraging others to follow his lead, said WCU Acting Chancellor Alison Morrison-Shetlar.

“Chancellor Belcher kicked off the silent leadership phase of the campaign in 2014,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “Despite his cancer diagnosis, he has continued to meet with donors over the past 18 months to seek their participation in the campaign and to position it for success. We look forward to the challenge of pushing this effort that he started over the finish line.”

The March 1 kickoff event will include free pizza, cookies, soft drinks and door prizes on the University Center lawn and throughout the building’s second floor. In addition to revealing the campaign’s goal, the launch party also will celebrate the conclusion of the second annual “I Love WCU” month held during February, including announcement of the winners of the inaugural Faculty-Staff Giving Champions Trophy to be awarded to the campus unit with the highest percentage of employees making gifts or pledges.

For those unable to attend on March 1, the event will be broadcast online via livestream at the website LeadTheWay.wcu.edu beginning at 5:30 p.m.

WCU alumni chapters across the state and beyond are organizing “watch parties” for local alumni and friends. The gatherings are scheduled in Asheville, Cherokee, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington in North Carolina; Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee; Columbia and Greenville in South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando and Tampa in Florida; Cloverdale, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. For information, visit the website alumni.wcu.edu and click on the “Get Involved” tab at the top of the page to find events.