Shetland Society

This campaign ended on June 30, 2021, but you can still make a gift to Western Carolina University by clicking here!

Recognizing WCU Faculty and Staff donors at all levels, the Shetland Society is named in honor of the cart and Shetland ponies that WCU and then Chancellor AC Reynolds purchased in 1912 to haul supplies back and forth from Sylva to campus.

The pulled cart was used during the Craft Revival of Western North Carolina (1890s - 1940s) by local craftspeople and was essential for sharing their work.

The Shetland Society celebrates the employees who work hard for WCU and the University’s role to deliver goods to our student body and the greater community, the Shetland Society serves as a symbol of innovation, dedication, and a driving force—traits that our Faculty and Staff exemplify through their generosity.

“It is not always plain going in such mountain journeys….We traveled by railroads, in coaches, and in the engineer’s cab; driving in motors; in rough wagons, and light carts and buggies; riding divers horses and mules, and, when all other ways failed, taking the “footpath way.”  - Frances Goodrich, Pioneer of the Craft Revival

Fire Marshal Chris Moore '01: An I Love WCU Story

Chris Moore

“We may not be out in the light, but you’ll definitely know when the light bulb’s out.” Western Carolina University’s own fire marshal, safety professional and alumnus Chris Moore, succinctly noted this when discussing the Facilities Management team’s impact. The support and effect go far beyond the lights as the team labors to keep the power running, heat and water flowing, the campus safe for all during the pandemic and ‘normal’ times, as well as maintaining the vibrancy of colors throughout the grounds. Moore, who graduated from WCU in 2001, notes the effort to keep this “micropolitan” functioning takes “all the cogs” and goes from “top to bottom to get all projects done for others.”

From Moore’s experiences working with the U.S. Forest Service, WCU, and being a father (this last job being his favorite of them all), his words continually echo respect, appreciation, and faith in the good of others. “The work is bigger than me,” he said. Supplying a safe and functioning environment for all those on campus affords others peace of mind to focus on education and work as a priority. The addition of providing current Catamounts the opportunity to know they have Catamount alumni looking out for them on campus stokes that purple and gold pride.

The duties noted earlier are only a portion of the work and support that this primarily behind the scenes team provides for their WCU families. Through the generous leadership of four individuals, Moore among them, and the backing of fellow team members across campus, the WCU Facilities Management Scholarship was created in 2019 and is on a trajectory for endowed status, and awarded each year in perpetuity. After the first full year of staff and faculty support, this scholarship, which provides funding for dependents, has exceeded initial expectations entirely due to a team effort.

Moore notes the importance of what every dollar means when tasked with sharing how he’d use hypothetical funds if given to donate. When asked about how he would use $50, Moore mindfully shared that every cent would go to areas like the Facilities Management Scholarship, some to his faith, some to senior care, and an overall focus on needs to help fellow people. He would discuss with his family in the philanthropic conversation as “it would be paid forward to a need the family feels is best for the community, whether WCU or the greater community,” he said. Teaching his children how to give, pay it forward, and learn the lesson of “money well spent to help people” speaks to the pure heart and intentions Moore hosts.

“I felt I needed to light a fire into you” is the statement an educator once told Moore for that little extra push of potential he saw in him. This statement adds some irony to Moore’s work in fire safety. As for the bit of inspiration, Moore shared that having a giver’s heart at the end of the day is principal when asked why one should give. “If we don’t have a giver's heart, how are we ever moving forward? You may not know what you get back in return but know you can help in a way that may benefit others," Moore said. “Can you look within your family or extended family to how college led to their success?” He suggested that all take a moment and “look at what culminates to making Western a great place. Stop and have a suppertime conversation” to think about ways to give through real-life experiences and sense that connection.

At this point of the conversation, Moore received a call over the radio to help others on campus and continue that critical behind the scenes work.. Before going, he paused to say thank you for the time, conversation, and to reach out if there was anything else that he can help with as needed. Even when going to help one situation, Moore took a second to aid in another. Such effort is the heart and generosity that Moore layers into everything he touches and hopes for others to do as well. Moore shared, “No matter how much motor one would have under the hood, if you don’t have the spark… you would be out of luck.” 

160 days ago by Jonathan Brooks
Denise Drury Homewood, executive director of the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, an I Love WCU Story

Denise Drury Homewood

“Art takes a venue or vehicle, a place online or a physical space to disseminate it. It also takes the artists and performers to make it,” Drury Homewood said. “Plus, it takes the audience to receive that information. At the heart of that Venn Diagram, you will find art and the Bardo Arts Center. It is our job to put all those pieces together.”

Drury Homewood’s guiding priority is connecting the WCU community with art experiences, whether that’s connecting audiences with art experiences, or student practitioners with professional experiences in the arts.

Drury Homewood said that community is greater than the individual, and that WCU is an energetic community. “Philanthropy in the arts feels like what I miss so much from being in a room with other people practicing yoga, that collective energy of all of our giving. It’s really cool to know that together, big or small, we can have a significant impact on the lives of our entire community.

“I Love WCU month is bold and ambitious. I love the idea of giving back symbolically, even if it’s not a huge payroll deduction. I believe in the possibilities of investing in your values.”

George Brown, the dean of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts, reminds his team often that a budget is a moral document.

Drury Homewood gives to WCU and other organizations where her investment will make a difference, to grow and share the values that she believes in. She stated that by giving to WCU, her donation will be matched not only by the financial resources that others have given, but also through the folks carrying out the work.

“I know that by giving to WCU, my dollar grows exponentially,” she said. “Giving has a multiplier effect here.” Drury Homewood has given to various funds across campus, including programs within the Bardo Arts Center. “Sure, faculty and staff like to give to their own programs and though that might seem self-serving, I think we give because we believe in our programs. We want to see them succeed in their outcomes.”

Giving is personal and she acknowledges the challenges of a global pandemic which might complicate the decision to make a financial gift during I Love WCU month. However, Drury Homewood said that giving during I Love WCU month can directly impact your own professional development.

“If you believe in the work you do here, I feel like you should donate to further contribute to the program’s goals and in turn, to your own career and professional goals working here,” she said.

Drury Homewood has been recently thinking about the ways becoming a parent has influenced the way she sees her work at WCU. She said sees her three-year-old daughter in the students.

“I see her potential, and in turn the potential of our students, and opportunities that I can work to provide,” she said. “They make me want to do even better at my job, and this mission is advanced through philanthropy and collective giving.”

In these challenging times, Drury Homewood stays focused on making sure our students and community have access to the arts. COVID-19 hasn’t stopped her work, it’s just changed the way the Bardo Arts Center does business. Drury Homewood said she wants to ensure that everyone has access to venues to experience and present their work.

Personally, and professionally, Drury Homewood is making sure everything counts as she moves into 2021 with intention. “I want to spend quality time with my daughter and my husband. I’m not sweating the small stuff,” she said.

This carries over into her job, where she is choosing to be very intentional about the way they do their work. “How do we make sure our students get the most out of this experience? How do we make sure that they soak up every single drop of goodness, from working in behind the scenes production to being an audience member?” she said.

Drury Homewood and her team are focusing on doing what they do best and making sure our students are not just engaged, but embedded in the arts as much as possible. “Of course, it’s hard to do during COVID, but we’re trying our best,” she said. “Post-COVID, we will continue to ensure our students and community get the most out of every arts experience.”

Drury Homewood is grateful for the support of a great team during these truly unprecedented times, as well as for the community at WCU in so many respects, including the fact that WCU is truly putting the health, safety, and well-being of everyone first. “Additionally, if BAC was a standalone arts institution, it would be impossible to do the work on our own. With the support of the university and everyone’s collegiality and willingness to work across departments, it exponentially maximizes our impact.”

160 days ago by Jonathan Brooks
An Interview with Dr. Yanjun Yan

As an educational institution, Western Carolina University faculty utilize their vast resources of knowledge to nurture the next generation, use their time to advance the curriculum offered to students, and work with an educational community to stem new ideas. Yanjun Yan is one of these individuals, but the lessons do not stop in the classroom.

When not spending time working, the focus falls upon family and sharing valuable time with them. The connection keeps her grounded while she uses her time to see the areas of need for students. Yanjun advocates for better preparation and screening for students as they come into college, ensuring there is support if interests change, and keeping mental health support at the forefront. Yanjun has seen the impact stress plays on students not having time to do their schoolwork, as many students work to pay for school, and how scholarships relieve the financial and mental burdens.

When asked hypothetically about how she would donate $50, Yanjun noted she would “put it towards the students’ scholarship fund right now” because of the continuous and immediate needs they have. There was no hesitation on that thought. When asked how she would donate $5 million, Yanjun hesitated as her eyes lit up at the possibilities.

In her journey through academia from her undergraduate experience in China, graduate work in Japan, Ph.D. in the US, and her Fulbright research on Bulgarian education trends, Yanjun witnesses the impact of education worldwide. Observing this led to her first philanthropic wish list item of “adding more faculty, so WCU can help more students.” As she works to help each student thrive as an individual, she sees how having a good faculty to student ratio helps them develop. Without spending all of this “dream big” gift in one spot, Yanjun expressed how funding scholarships for study abroad was important and takes an individual’s mind and magnifies their knowledge base on a global scale.

As a consummate educator, Yanjun was asked what she would say if asked, “Why should I give?” She immediately identified, “I would show them results, not tell them why.” Experiencing the impact and outcome of how philanthropy provides noticeable results matches her teaching style of experiential, hands-on learning. Yanjun added, “If they don’t know if the contributions would go to the place they intend it to, showing them and educating them” gives the knowledge one needs to bridge that gap.

By putting in what you have to contribute to others, whether it be your time, talent, or treasure. Yanjun reminds us to allow the heart to lead the way. Yanjun stated, “Money is a big thing, but the heart is more important.”

181 days ago by Jonathan Brooks

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