Published On: Mon, Aug 26th, 2019

New WCU Chancellor meets EBCI community leaders





New Western Carolina University (WCU) Chancellor Kelli Brown was in Cherokee on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 22 as part of her ‘Welcome Tour.’

The event was held at Selu Garden Café at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. There were numerous guest speakers, including WCU Board of Trustee member Casey Cooper. Cooper is one of two members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) on the Board of Trustees, the other being former Principal Chief Joyce Dugan.

Cooper welcomed Brown to the podium. A significant piece of Brown’s speech was reiterating her goal of maintaining and building partnerships with the EBCI.

“Few universities have the opportunity to partner with a sovereign nation that shares our love for this place and this community,” said Brown.  “It is a benefit to both entities that we continue to leverage that opportunity to ensure the future success of the Tribe, the university, and our region.”

Kelli Brown, new WCU chancellor, chats with Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed during a ‘Welcome Tour’ event hosted by Brown at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 23. (JONAH LOSSIAH/One Feather photo)

The Chancellor is less than two months into her job and is currently learning the specifics of these partnerships with the EBCI. She says that one of the most important things is to keep constant communication between WCU and the Tribe.

“I think, as I’ve talked to both Chief Richie Sneed, as well as Casey Cooper and Joyce [Dugan], just the idea of having folks that have an education – we all know that that’s really important, so how do we continue doing that?… how do we partner in those things? I think that’s what we’ll continue to enhance and just build on what we’ve been doing,” said Brown.

Brown mentioned that she had spoken with representatives from Harrah’s that day about increasing internship opportunities and brainstorming different ways the entities could work together.

During her speech, Brown recognized the efforts of former Chancellor David Belcher, who passed away last year after a battle with cancer.

“I also need to acknowledge the fact that I am here tonight following in the footsteps of a beloved leader, Chancellor David Belcher. His impact on this university is immeasurable, and he will remain an inspiration and guiding light to me as I take on the mantle of leadership.”

Brown was chosen as the 12th WCU Chancellor in April of this year and has been on her ‘Welcome Tour’ since mid-July. The upcoming stops include Asheville, Hendersonville, Charlotte, and Waynesville. Brown is using these events to communicate directly with alumni and community members. She only spoke for about ten minutes, stating that she wanted to talk with everyone individually.

“Please join me as we begin a new era of excellence for Western Carolina University. An era in which we honor the traditions of a past and embrace the innovations of today that will lead us into the future. Together we will decide to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.”