WCU’s late Chancellor David O. Belcher performs on piano in the performance hall of the university’s arts center.

The academic unit that is home to Western Carolina University’s programs in music, stage, screen, art and design will be known as the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts in honor of the late WCU chancellor, who died June 17 at the age of 60 after battling brain cancer for more than two years.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of the college for Belcher in recognition of his background as a classically trained pianist and his impact on higher education and the arts at WCU and across Western North Carolina. The action came during a special conference call board meeting Monday, July 2.

Patricia B. Kaemmerling, WCU board chair, said the trustees decided to name the College of Fine and Performing Arts for Belcher in celebration of his talents as a musician, his transformational leadership of the university during his seven-year tenure as chancellor, and the financial contributions that he and wife Susan Brummell Belcher have made to provide significant scholarship support to students majoring in the fine and performing arts.

“Although Chancellor Belcher worked tirelessly on behalf of all WCU students, there was a special place in his heart for those students studying music, theater, film and television production, art, design and dance because of his own background as a pianist,” Kaemmerling said. “David and Susan Belcher became supporters and friends of artistic endeavors at WCU when they first set foot on this campus, and it is fitting that the Board of Trustees honor Chancellor Belcher by formally and permanently affixing his name to the college in which future careers in the fine and performing arts will be realized.”

The college’s dean, George Brown, called the board’s decision “a wonderful commemoration of a life well lived,” borrowing a phrase that served as the theme of Belcher’s June 23 memorial service.

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Originally published July 2, 2018. Written by Bill Studenc.

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