he 2020 Commission is a maximally diverse and inclusive planning body that is charged with developing a shared vision for Western Carolina University – Our Vision, Our Climb – within the context of the university's mission and budget, while reaffirming our commitment to excellence, student success, and external focus and engagement.
The time is right for a new strategic plan to guide this great university. Western Carolina University is in the second decade of the 21st century and its 122nd year serving the state of North Carolina with a particular focus on its western region. Recent years have witnessed dramatic progress, including an enrollment increase of more than 40 percent, the doubling of campus acreage, the construction of 18 new buildings, the addition of numerous new programs (many of which are unique to the state and region and therefore distinguish WCU from other institutions), the hiring of outstanding new faculty and staff, and a steady increase in the quality of the student body.
Looking forward, Western Carolina must capitalize on its significant momentum and growing visibility both within the University of North Carolina system and across the Southeast to carve out new opportunities for progress. These new opportunities, however, are framed within a context of change and challenge that will certainly affect our university’s future. For example, the state of North Carolina has faced multibillion dollar shortfalls in revenue in recent years, and the fiscal outlook continues to be uncertain. Unemployment in the state remains stubbornly high. The UNC system has absorbed more than a 20 percent reduction in state funding over the past three years. Regulatory requirements at the state, regional and national levels are increasing, and public demands for accountability in higher education are intensifying. And, the national dialogue on higher education continues to focus on the role and organization of universities to serve more students via more delivery methods to meet more public needs, but with less and less public support. These and other challenges will clearly influence Western Carolina University’s future.
The 2020 Commission will oversee a strategic planning initiative designed to engage the broad range of internal and external university constituents, envisioning the concrete realization of our potential within the realities of the contemporary context.
David O. Belcher, Chancellor