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Surgery successful for WCU chancellor

fr belcherDavid Belcher may not have appeared at Western Carolina University’s commencement ceremonies last week, but the university’s chancellor was there in spirit after undergoing brain surgery May 4.

Belcher “really wishes he could be here to celebrate this special day with you,” WCU Provost Allison Morrison-Shetler, who presided over the ceremonies in his stead, told the graduates, adding that she suspected the chancellor was going against doctor’s orders to watch the live-streaming ceremony on his phone. 

“Get well soon, Chancellor Belcher!” students chanted in a cheer Morrison-Shetlar led at all three graduation ceremonies held at WCU last week. 

The surgery, performed at Duke University Hospital, aimed to remove a small tumor that had developed in Belcher’s brain, interfering with his speech and expression. The surgery went well, the university’s public relations department reported, with another update on Belcher’s progress expected this week.

Belcher’s announcement of his condition met a nearly immediate flood of support from the university community and beyond, with a rally of students and staff the day afterward attracting nearly 250 people in grim weather. The day of Belcher’s announcement also happened to be a meeting of the Jackson County commissioners, who had a plentiful supply of kind words and well wishes to share. 

Further keeping the situation in the minds of Catamounts and community members will be a gathering commemorating May’s status as National Brain Tumor Awareness Month at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at WCU’s instructional site at 28 Schenck Parkway in Asheville. Anne Cortes, a student pursuing a master’s of health sciences, is organizing the event, which is sponsored by the Western North Carolina Brain Tumor Support Group. 

While Belcher’s family is asking for privacy during these first days following the surgery, messages and well-wishes are welcome. Updates on Belcher’s progress will be posted online at www.wcu.edu/discover/leadership/office-of-the-chancellor/personal-message.aspx. The site contains a message feature to contact Belcher directly. A #WheeBelieveinBelcher hashtag has also started to show support for the chancellor.

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