Arts + Entertainment

People attending productions at Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center may soon have the chance to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer before a show or during intermission.

WCU’s board of trustees Friday unanimously approved a policy change allowing for the sale of beer and wine at the performance venue.

John Bardo, the former chancellor for Western Carolina University, has gotten a job. He will take over as the new chancellor for Wichita State University in Kansas in July.

Bardo retired last summer from Western Carolina University after 16 years in the post. He has spent the past year doing research based in the Raleigh-area, although he has remained on WCU’s payroll thanks to a generous state policy for retired university chancellors.

He has been making $280,000 — his full chancellor’s salary still paid by WCU — to conduct research. The policy expects chancellors to commit to a year of teaching after enjoying their year of paid research. Bardo had said he indeed intended to return to teach at WCU.

Now he will not be doing so, but he will not be required to repay the salary he has gotten under the state policy, according to UNC board of governors’ policy.

The policy was actually changed recently, making it less generous than it had been. But Bardo is entitled to the earlier, more generous version that was in force when he was hired

“That earlier policy did not require the repayment of research leave if a departing chancellor elected to take a job elsewhere before returning to the classroom,” spokeswoman Joni Worthington wrote in an email.

The policy that allowed Bardo the year for research leave was revised in 2010 by the UNC Board of Governors. Board members decided the policy, the one Bardo falls under, was overly generous and did not hold outgoing chancellors and presidents accountable for the money they were earning.

The new policy allows chancellors and presidents who are returning to the classroom six months pay at levels that are in-line with other faculty rather than their old chancellor’s salary. It also specifies certain work requirements be met and stipulates that before-and-after reviews be conducted of any research done.

“Under the revised policy, which applies to individuals who were hired into their administrative position on or after January 8, 2010, the UNC president is authorized, at his or her discretion, to require repayment of compensation paid during the leave period in the event that a chancellor does not assume a faculty position as anticipated” Worthington wrote.

Bardo did not respond to an email request for an interview about whether he intended to repay the money. In addition to the large salary being paid by WCU, Bardo this year also received a fringe-benefits package that included retirement and health insurance.

Bardo in March told The Smoky Mountain News that his research looks at the relationships between higher education, the economy and community development. The theme is a familiar one that he often addressed and promoted during his time as WCU’s chancellor. He noted that he was building a  “live database” so that he can add variables as they become available, allowing him to extend the analysis.

WCU’s former chancellor said that he was working on a book-length manuscript that would make specific recommendations on two fronts: Ways that states might re-structure their higher education institutions to align them more with changing external conditions; and how these recommendations affect internal university operations.

The move to Witchita marks a homecoming of sorts for Bardo. Bardo started his career at Wichita State. From 1976 to 1977 he was graduate coordinator of the master of urban studies program, and from 1978 to 1983 he was chair of Wichita State’s department of sociology and social work. He has family in the Wichita area.

In a Wichita State news release, Bardo was quoted as saying he was excited about his new job.

“Wichita State is a wonderful university with great potential,” Bardo said. “Wichita is a tremendous community and we’re delighted to be back.”

If numbers truly tell the tale, then there are a lot of people living in Cullowhee who care a great deal about the future of that community. More than 100 of them turned out last week for a meeting at Cullowhee Valley School on how to handle the challenges and opportunities that speedy growth promises to bring.

Cullowhee, with Western Carolina University serving as its heartbeat, grew 47 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the latest U.S. Census. Cullowhee alone accounted for almost 24 percent of Jackson County’s total population of 40,271 people, despite lacking official town status and having no tangible business district to speak of.  

Speakers at the meeting emphasized that they do not expect Cullowhee’s growth rate to slow anytime soon, and that planning will be key to handling what’s sure to come.

Wanda Kidd, a retired Baptist campus minister at WCU, noted that Cullowhee’s struggle to identify itself was further weakened when the high school there closed in 1988.

“When schools are closing, you have to redefine your identity,” Kidd said, adding that communities can often find that spirit by rallying around other institutions such as volunteer fire departments.

“We need to find how to support that, and maybe find some other ways to hook into that identity,” Kidd said.

She also suggested, to the obvious approval of many in the large crowd, that signs be placed around Cullowhee to help cement the community’s presence.

“I love living in Cullowhee, and I want everybody else to get that sense of community,” Kidd said.

County Planner Gerald Green said that like Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher, he has no doubts that more growth in the Cullowhee township is inevitable.

“Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t call my office wanting to talk about new student housing,” Green said.

Clark Corwin, a Forest Hills town council member, said that he believes WCU needs to tie itself not just to younger students, but with older Cullowhee residents “who are vested” in the community: retired faculty and staff, students who stay after graduating, plus people who simply like Cullowhee and choose to make their homes there.

“There is an opportunity to provide services,” said Corwin, noting there could be cultural events targeting this hidden population plus learning opportunities through the university.

SEE ALSO: New chancellor makes inherited vision for Millennial Campus his own

Business owner Robin Lang raised the possibility of a planning board being formed to help guide the Cullowhee community. That received a thumbs down from at least one audience member, Jim Calderbank, who lives in Waynesville but has ties into the Cullowhee community. He called for “one overreaching group or individual” with “competency and experience in community development and redevelopment” rather than a board of people.

Belcher described future growth at WCU as “a foregone conclusion.” But the chancellor noted WCU, at least for now, lacks critical infrastructure such as housing and parking needed to support growth, meaning additional population increases probably will be incremental and not immediate.

This could provide leaders and community members with the necessary time lapse for critically needed planning.

Belcher said that WCU would likely tackle the parking issue by building a parking garage, noting congregating cars in one central location is friendlier to the environment than building several individual parking lots. Off-campus housing construction is sure to take place, too, the chancellor said.

WCU’s chancellor said that Cullowhee and WCU’s futures are inextricably linked.

“And I want Cullowhee to be that community that will help me attract the best and brightest students,” Belcher said, emphasizing that he is “committed … to bringing the university to the table,” and adding his personal willingness to “sit down and talk about these issues.”

 

How important is WCU to Jackson County?

• Recent WCU new construction: nearly $190 million

• Recent WCU building renovations: $50.3 million

• WCU future construction/renovations: $233 million

• Recent off-campus residential apartments: $23.6 million

The driver for growth at Western Carolina University and the Cullowhee could come via the Millennial Campus, but what to do with the 344-acre tract across the highway, and how to do it, remains elusive.

When the university bought the tract in 2005, doubling the doubling the size of WCU’s property holdings, some criticized the move as out-of-keeping with the university’s mission, unrealistic and wasteful of taxpayers’ dollars.

Former WCU Chancellor John Bardo had a sweeping vision for this Millennial Campus: He talked about melding academics, research, private industry, business and student housing into one vibrant entity.

New Chancellor David Belcher has inherited his predecessor’s blueprint, but has a tough job of actually making it happen during these hard-knock economic times. Belcher, however, indicated last week that he might be eyeing private enterprise to help jumpstart the project.

“That will be a great asset for the region, but that kind of development is going to have implications,” Belcher said. “You suddenly have a booming population … businesses will follow.”

The university has the right, under state law, to initiate the type of private development Belcher envisions on this Millennial Campus as long as WCU adheres to its academic mission. Belcher said that he anticipates the arrival of health clinics and doctors’ offices, where students could work and learn in a private-public set-up anchored by the new 160,000-square-foot, $46 million health and human sciences building.

He did not say whether WCU is now actively recruiting such private development.

SEE ALSO: Cullowhee emerges as Jackson's hotspot for growth

The intention is for the health and human sciences building to serve as the cornerstone of a retirement, aging and health “neighborhood.” It would be a place where students and faculty would study and teach alongside a mixed-use area with the Belcher-envisioned private health-care providers, medical-device companies and specialized clinics.

The health and human sciences building is scheduled to open for classes this fall.

Belcher has put together a taskforce to study and think strategically about the university’s Millennial Campus. The group has been meeting since January.

 

Big dreams, little substance: WCU’s Millennial Campus

Seven years ago, using $2.87 million in state bond money, Western Carolina University bought 344 acres of land across the highway. The idea was to build a Millennial Campus, a showcase of how academics, research, private business and housing could be combined to enhance education.

To date the potential of the Millennial Campus has gone largely untapped. The mostly flat tract is home to just a single building: the $46 million health and human sciences building, set to open for classes this fall.

A new education building was next on the list, but has been sidelined because of funding shortfalls in the state budget.

University officials have estimated that up to 75 percent of the land, extending from the property line of the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching past the Jackson County Airport and along Little Savannah Road, is suitable for building. The land is across N.C. 107 from WCU’s main campus.

During the past four years Western Carolina University has been hit with $30 million in cumulative budget cuts, a university lobotomy of sorts that has resulted in larger class sizes, consolidation of some academic programs and restructurings of certain departments.

Tuition this academic year increased by 9.9 percent, or $399. Fees, too, have gone up by some $151 per student this year.

This means one could easily and accurately argue that students at WCU are paying more for less.

Which goes a long way toward explaining why WCU student Andy Miller, who has taken an active role on campus highlighting what budget cuts there really mean, was less than thrilled to learn that his former chancellor is pulling down $280,000 this year for conducting research. John Bardo retired as WCU’s chancellor last summer but has continued to make his full salary.

“Let us say he is doing research, and even that it is great research. I still think it’s unjust and unfair to pay $280,000 for research,” Miller said.

In addition to the large salary, Bardo receives a fringe-benefits package that includes retirement and health insurance. The retired chancellor did have to give up the university-provided car and free house, however. Those perks transferred to new WCU’s new chancellor, David Belcher.

 

‘Demoralizing’ to faculty, staff

Bardo is not the only university chancellor in the state who was able to keep his salary for an additional year after retiring. Chancellors across the state have been entitled to the same benefits. The policy was revised, however, in 2010 by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Board members decided the policy, the one Bardo falls under, was overly generous and did not hold outgoing chancellors and presidents accountable for the money they were earning.

The new policy allows chancellors and presidents who are returning to the classroom six months pay at levels that are in-line with other faculty. It also specifies certain work requirements be met and stipulates that before and after reviews be conducted of any research done.

SEE ALSO: WCU's former chancellor makes $280,000 this year for project research

The change in 2010 only applied to incoming chancellors and presidents such as Belcher, not Bardo and a cadre of other UNC university chancellors and presidents. Specifically, the old policy states that Bardo and these other men and women are entitled to an extra year of salary, paid for by their respective institutions, for a year’s research leave if they meet a couple conditions: They must have served for at least five years and must agree to become a faculty member for a nine-month appointment after their 12 months of research is completed.

Bardo meets that litmus test. He served some 16 years at WCU. And, the longtime administrator said he would return to the classroom to teach as a member of the university’s faculty.

“I do not yet know what I will be teaching. Once that is set, I will begin to do specific work related to those classes,” Bardo wrote in an email interview.

The salary Bardo will receive for nine months as a WCU faculty member isn’t shabby: $168,000, or 60 percent of his chancellor’s salary of $280,000.

That’s more than double the average salary for WCU faculty of $74,215. None of these WCU employees have been given raises in four years, making the current payments to Bardo seem, to critics such as Miller at least, especially egregious in such fiscally austere times.

It’s not just a student finding the large sums of dollars being doled out a bit hard to swallow. Professor Daryl Hale, who teaches in the department of philosophy and religion, described the situation as “demoralizing.”

“But, it’s also demoralizing to hear about any number of football coaches who get in excess of $200,000 for losing seasons, or to be told by the UNC general administration that what really matters are continuing athletic programs, no matter what the exorbitant costs,” Hale said in an email. “And then, faculty are constantly given the lame response that all this comes from ‘different pots,’ which even if true, shows no compassion when it comes from those voting themselves huge salary increases … I guess the bigger question to ask (now I step into my role as a moral philosopher): Is this really the sort of university system or society we want to live in and hand on to our students and children?”

And, Professor Catherine Carter of WCU’s English department raised questions about accountability and what precisely the university can anticipate in return for the $280,000 Bardo is receiving.

“I hope WCU can expect some really amazing research, considering that I can’t get funded to visit Berkeley for a week to work with primary sources and live in a very Spartan dorm while I’m there,” Carter said. “And, I certainly hope that as WCU makes its terms with new faculty and administration, it’ll remember this and choose its priorities accordingly.”

 

Paying statewide

Bardo is part of an older echelon of chancellors who have cost North Carolina and will continue to cost North Carolina — of the UNC chancellors who have stepped down since 1994, six (including Bardo) were granted a one-year research leave under their chancellors’ salary. This money is “to retool before returning to the classroom,” said Joni Worthington, spokeswoman for the UNC Board of Governors.

Worthington said the cumulative total of these retired chancellors’ ending salaries was $1.27 million.   

But, there are more chancellors in the pipeline who fall under the old policy. Of the 17 UNC chancellors today, 12 will potentially have the option of drawing an additional year’s salary when they retire. Their current annual salaries are a combined total $1.9 million.

That said, as of this month, only seven of them have served as chancellor for five years or more, as required under the policy. Two more will cross that minimum service threshold later this year. The other three have another couple of years to reach the five-year mark to qualify.

According to the American Council on Education, the average tenure of presidents and chancellors at American universities is eight-and-a-half years. But even if chancellors and presidents qualify, that does not mean they’ll want to conduct research and then teach.

“It is highly unlikely, based on past experience, that all of these chancellors would exercise their retreat rights and return to the classroom after a one-year leave,” Worthington said.

Here’s the context: of the 17 men and women preceding this latest crop of chancellors, six resigned to accept positions at other institutions, one retired and chose not to return to the classroom; four resigned their administrative positions with fewer than five years of service and were granted leaves of six months or less. Only six opted to return to the classroom after a one-year leave.

Worthington said allowing senior administrators to take a faculty position (with a certain time period to “retool”) when they retire or otherwise step down has been an accepted practice for decades in American higher education.

 

Demanding accountability

In 2003, the board of governors required every university board of trustees to adopt a policy on administrative separation of presidents and chancellors. This was an effort to make UNC campuses more competitive and bring consistency to practices, according to Worthington. In 2005, a uniform statewide policy was instituted, the one now benefiting Bardo.

But following an examination of the policy in 2009, the system decided “that UNC’s policies overall might be slightly more generous than those of public universities elsewhere — both in the length of leaves permitted and their levels of pay — and modified the policy accordingly,” Worthington said.

The new policy isn’t as generous as the old. The leave is for six months, with the possibility of an additional six months if approved by the UNC president. The salary during the leave is to be “commensurate with salaries of faculty members” of comparable rank and experience.

The departed chancellors who take the leave promise they’ll return to classrooms must submit a work plan. This plan is required to include a description of expected outcomes. The plan undergoes review by both the UNC president and board of governors. When completed, the former chancellor is required to submit a “summary report” to the UNC system and the local board of trustees that is involved.

 

What would $280,000 get the university?

• At $12,551 apiece, WCU could pay for 22 instate, full-ride football scholarships each year to help bolster the struggling football program.

• At an average of $74,215 each, WCU could hire almost four faculty members.

• Administrators come at about $62,674, so WCU could hire at least four of them, too.

• Staff are much less expensive at merely $35,316 or so each; WCU could hire almost eight.

 

WCU’s top earners

David Belcher, Chancellor

$275,000

Effective July 1, 2012

Robert Edwards, Vice chancellor for administration and finance

$148,223

Effective July 1, 2011

Beth Lofquist, Interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs

$162,000

Effective July 11, 2011

Sam Miller, Vice chancellor for student affairs

$158,620

Effective Aug. 1, 2007

Clifton Metcalf, Vice chancellor for advancement and external affairs

$154,500

Effective Jan. 15, 2001

John Bardo, former chancellor of Western Carolina University, is being paid $280,000 this year to retool for a return to the classroom and to conduct academic research.

Bardo wrote that his research concerns the relationships between higher education, the economy and community development. The theme is a familiar one that he often addressed and promoted during his time as WCU’s chancellor.

“This is a particularly important question given changes in the economy related to technology and globalization,” the former chancellor wrote in an email interview, adding that the work has required assembling a large-scale database on all 50 states.

“… that has allowed me to look at statistical predictors of unemployment, the demand for educated workers, median household income, and per capita state GDP,” Bardo wrote. “Also as a part of this work I have been able to identify statistical structural components of the state-level new economy; structural components of university activities; and structural components of enrollment characteristics of students. Using these components I have been able to successfully statistically predict differences among the states in the key economic variables described above.”

Bardo noted that he’s building a  “live database,” so that he can add variables as they become available, allowing him to extend the analysis.

SEE ALSO: Retired WCU chancellor still on the payroll

Bardo wrote that his research would help provide an in-depth look at the nature of universities and how they link to the needs of the states, regions, and communities. The former chancellor said that he’s at work on a book-length manuscript that would make specific recommendations on two fronts:

• Ways that states might re-structure their higher education institutions to align them more with changing external conditions.

• How these recommendations affect internal university operations.

“Obviously, this research could have implications for policy in North Carolina as well as nationally,” Bardo wrote in the email.

Additionally, the former chancellor said that he’s spending time relearning software for one of his primary academic areas, “the application of research methodology and applied statistics to understanding real world problems.”

“As you can imagine, in the decades during which I was in administration a great deal changed with regard to software that supports teaching and research,” Bardo wrote. “Part of my work has involved learning the new version of the key software that supports this area of teaching. It is very different than it was two decades ago.”

After a decade-and-a-half of stable leadership — a situation almost unheard of within the greater University of North Carolina system —Western Carolina University is about to embark on a whirlwind of change.

In addition to the replacement of Chancellor John Bardo by David Belcher of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who starts July 1, a bevy of top positions at the university are filled, for now, only on an interim basis. This includes the provost (WCU’s second in command) and the university’s vice chancellor of administration and finance.

Also coming open? Six of the 13 members of the WCU Board of Trustees are up for appointment or reappointment. This includes Chairman Steve Warren and Vice Chairman Charles Worley, who have served two- and four-year terms respectively on the board, meaning they cannot be reappointed as trustees.

The governor gets four appointments; the UNC Board of Governors appoints eight of the trustees, plus the president of the student government is automatically placed on the board.

This board of trustees and Bardo met for the final time last week. In an emotional meeting that left Warren and Bardo, at times, choking back tears, the outgoing chancellor said he truly believes WCU’s best days are before it.

“These 16 years (as chancellor) represents a quarter of my life,” Bardo said. “This was about trying to make a difference in lives of people.”

The average tenure of a UNC chancellor is four-and-a-half years.

Warren spoke of Bardo’s “incredible vision” that transformed “the spirit of the campus.”

“Everything we ever wanted for this university is now within our reach — everything,” Warren said.

To honor Bardo, the board of trustees voted to name the university’s Fine and Performing Arts Center after the retiring chancellor.

In a related matter, Faculty Senate Chairman Erin McNelis told the board of trustees that this faculty leadership group would consider a resolution for more openness when it comes to a chancellor search.

This resolution would seek for the finalists’ names to be made public, so that the final selection would become “an open process,” she said. This is routinely done in many states, but North Carolina allows universities to opt to keep chancellors’ searches secret.

Western Carolina University’s next chancellor is David Belcher, a classically trained pianist who is currently a top administrator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Belcher, 53, will start his appointment July 1. His base salary will be $275,000. Belcher was one of three candidates recommended to UNC system President Tom Ross by the university’s 16-member selection committee. The UNC board of governors last week signed off on Ross’ pick of Belcher, a Barnwell, S.C., native.

The names of the competing candidates were not disclosed.

“David Belcher brings to the task more than two decades of academic and leadership experience at highly respected public universities,” Ross said in a nomination speech streamed live via video from Chapel Hill to WCU. “At each step along the way, he has proven himself to be an energetic and effective leader who encourages strategic thinking, promotes collaboration and inclusiveness, and makes student success a university-wide responsibility.”

ALSO: Belcher brings unique skills to new post as WCU chancellor

Ross said he was convinced Belcher has “the right mix of experience, skills and passion” needed in WCU’s next chancellor.

 

New chancellor faces challenges

Belcher will replace John Bardo, who, with nearly 16-years as WCU’s chancellor, put a distinctive personal stamp on the university and the surrounding community.

Bardo leaves an “enduring and permanent legacy,” said Steve Warren, chairman of the WCU board of trustees.

Enrollment at WCU went from 6,500 to 9,400 during Bardo’s tenure; buildings  —14 — were built or renovated. These include five new residence halls, a dining hall, a campus recreation center, the Fine and Performing Arts Center and a high-tech Center for Applied Technology.

Additionally, however, Belcher inherits a university facing at least $8.6 million in budget cuts from the state, probably more; and a possible leadership vacuum as six or so of the university’s top administrators — provost and finance chief, among others — have left or retired. Even WCU’s marching band director, Bob Buckner, is leaving after this year.

Joan MacNeill, a member of WCU’s board of trustees, said all three candidates submitted for Ross’ consideration would have been excellent choices to fill the university’s top post.

“We had an impressive group to choose from,” she said.

 

An opportunity for the arts?

Brad Ulrich, a trumpet professor at WCU, wasn’t much interested in attending the chancellor-naming ceremony last week. He was busy, and there didn’t seem much point to his being there. Then Ulrich heard a rumor: the new chancellor was a classically trained musician. And, a top-drawer one, at that — Belcher went to the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, one of the finest institutions of its kind in the U.S.

“With this kind of leadership, the arts could really explode in this area,” Ulrich said, who is helping lead a push to turn WCU into the first ‘All-Steinway School’ in the University of North Carolina system.

Institutions with this designation use only pianos designed by Steinway & Sons, and such an effort requires WCU to replace 50 or so pianos in the school of music. Since Belcher is a pianist, Ulrich said he hoped and expected the new chancellor would appreciate efforts to bring what many consider the finest-crafted pianos in the world to Cullowhee.

Like Ulrich, Will Peebles, director of the school of music, and Bruce Frazier, who teaches commercial and electronic music, expressed optimism that the arts at WCU and in the community might receive even stronger support. Both men watched the video stream from Chapel Hill after, like Ulrich, learning a musician would become their new boss.

“I’m very excited about the possibility of having someone who is sensitive to the arts, and of the very important role it plays in the community,” Frazier said afterwards, adding he was even more excited about what Belcher’s appointment might mean for WCU’s music students.

And, within minutes of the announcement, word had indeed spread through the music department, and the students seemed suitably impressed by the news.

“I didn’t really know if it would go more toward (supporting) the football program,” said Nicole Segers, a tenor saxophone player from Lexington.

Segers explained she had been concerned that UNC administrative leaders, and the university’s board of trustees, would search for a chancellor with skills to specifically build WCU’s football program, which hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2005.

“I think it is good news,” added Ethan Dyer, a baritone saxophone player from Gastonia, of Belcher’s background in the arts. “Even though Bardo really supported the marching band, the music department seemed overshadowed.”

For his part, however, Belcher said he is a chancellor for “everybody,” and not just a spokesman for the arts.

He emphasized the importance of supporting the football team at WCU, because, he said, that’s a large part of the college experience for students and the community.

The last time David Belcher played publicly was about a year or so ago, when he paired with cellist Melita Hunsinger of the Arkansas Symphony orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19.

When a pianist accompanies a soloist, a delicate give and take must occur. Listening, adjusting, assisting and leading — all this, and more, must happen for the performances to succeed, and for beautiful music to result.

Those same skills — listening, adjusting, assisting and leading — are evidenced in Belcher’s leadership style. The 53-year-old classically trained musician will become chancellor of Western Carolina University beginning July 1.

Belcher described himself as a consensus builder, a leader who makes decisions only after first seeking the wisdom and opinions of those working with him.

“My M.O. is a consultative approach,” said Belcher, adding that he’s not shy, however, about making unpopular decisions independently if that’s what is needed in a given situation.

Those collaborative skills are likely to be put to the test as soon as he takes over. The university is facing gargantuan budget cuts because of trickledown from a $2.4 billion state shortfall, making for difficult choices about which programs — and people — stay, which go.

The budget difficulties have provoked inner dissension on campus among faculty and staff. Some members of the faculty haven’t been silent about their dissatisfaction with what they’ve described as heavy-handed, administrative-driven decision-making.

Belcher said economic hard times “will force us to make some really hard choices. We’re going to have to continue to make strategic choices about what we will, and will not, do.”

The incoming chancellor said he wants to develop “a shared vision” with faculty, staff, students and the community about WCU’s future.

A new chancellor for Western Carolina University will be announced this Friday during the N.C. Board of Governor’s meeting in Chapel Hill, with live streaming of the event to be viewed on campus in Cullowhee.

The announcement by UNC system President Tom Ross is set to take place from 10:30 to 11 a.m. His announcement will be streamed for viewing at Blue Ridge Conference Room.

A chancellor-selection committee recently submitted top candidates’ names to Ross, who gets the final pick. Those names of finalists were not made public.

Longtime Chancellor John Bardo, 62, announced in October he planned to retire July 1. He has spent more than 15 years as WCU’s top leader.

Bardo said he is leaving because WCU has lost or will lose four to six key leadership positions within two years, signaling the arrival of a new guard. He said he believed a younger chancellor was needed to shepherd in this next phase for the university, and that his age might diminish the caliber of hires WCU could expect in filling the vacant, or soon-to-vacant, positions. These include the provost (second-in-command) and the university’s vice chancellor of administration and finance.

Bardo has far exceeded the career span of most university chancellors. The average tenure for a University of North Carolina chancellor is four-and-a-half years; nationally, the average is seven years.

Bardo plans to take a year of research leave before joining the WCU faculty. Current plans call for him to join the faculty in the College of Education and Allied Professions, WCU spokesman Bill Studenc said in an email to The Smoky Mountain News last week in response to questions about Bardo’s future role:

“His specific assignment is to be determined and will be based upon where he can be of the most service to the university and upon the outcome of his research,” Studenc said.

The salary range for a chancellor is $236,979 to $379,180, plus use of a 7,000-square-foot house (currently being given a nearly $300,000 facelift) including utilities, grounds keeping and a housekeeper. The chancellor also is given free use of a car. Bardo’s base salary is $280,000.

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