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WCU Former Chancellor David Belcher Passes Away At 60

Credit Courtesy of Western Carolina University
WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher, accompanied by UNC System President Margaret Spellings, greets graduating students with a high-five during a commencement ceremony in December 2017.

Chancellor David Belcher passed away on Sunday, June 17, at the age of 60 after more than two-years of battling brain cancer.


Belcher was chancellor at Western Carolina University from 2011 until he took medical leave at the end of 2017. The native of Barnwell, South Carolina is beloved by his WCU family.


Two pivotal statewide initiatives that he is credited with bringing to the university are the NC Promise tuition program and the Connect NC bond. NC Promise is lowering the cost of tuition at three UNC-System schools to $500 per semester for in-state students and $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students for the coming semester in fall 2018.  Western is anticipating another year of record numbers for 2018 and says that NC Promise is contributing to the larger number of applications and tuition/housing deposits.


Belcher will also be remembered for his work on the successful passage of the Connect NC bond in 2016, which secured $110 million in funding for WCU’s Apodaca Science Building.


“David Belcher’s passion, integrity and vision have forever shaped and strengthened the university that he loved so much. David’s fierce belief in Western Carolina University’s ability and responsibility to change the lives of students and transform the region it serves inspired the Catamount community, and it inspired me,” said Margaret Spellings, UNC system president on Sunday.


“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Susan, whose own unfailing support and passion for WCU continues, in part through the Belchers’ heartfelt and significant personal gift towards Catamount student scholarships.”


In April, Governor Roy Cooper presented Belcher with one of North Carolina’s highest civilian honors, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in recognition of his contributions to the state.


Before coming to WCU, Belcher served at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 2003 until 2011 as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. He also worked at Missouri State University from 1988 until 2003, first as coordinator of keyboard studies in the Music Department, then as assistant dean for 1 year until he became dean of the College of Arts and Letters.


Memorial service is set for 1 pm Saturday on June 23 in WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center.