Fondly is how Western Carolina students will remember Western Carolina Chancellor David Belcher says Claire Lemke. Belcher passed away June 17th.
Lemke was the first recipient of a scholarship in fine and performing arts that Chancellor Belcher established last year in honor of his wife. Lemke received $1000 for the spring semester of her senior year.
"It was devastating to hear that he was sick and equally devastating to hear that he had passed away. I was just really upset," says Lemke. "I feel really lucky to be a Western student while he was a chancellor, especially because I got an opportunity to get to know him."
Arts students will now be working in the newly dubbed David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts. The College of Fine and Performing Arts was founded in 2007. Western Carolina's Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to the name change in order to honor Belcher.
Students in the School of Music are eligible for the Chancellor’s Music Scholarship supported by Belcher. Additionally, students from any program in the College of Fine and Performing Arts are eligible for the Susan Brummell Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts Endowed Scholarship - that's the scholarship Lemke received. Belcher was a tenured professor at the School of Music and a classically trained pianist and a patron of the arts.
"If anyone deserved it, David did. He really exemplified the energy that we see in the college of fine and performing arts," says Lemke. "He was dedicated to the arts and you could just tell that he really cared about the students. He genuinely cared. But I think it means a lot to show how important the arts were to him."
Lemke, who is from Gastonia NC, graduated from Western Carolina this May with a major in Music and a minor in Psychology. She plans to attend Northwestern University to study Music Theory in the fall.
Next year’s scholarship recipient has already been chosen and will receive the funds for their fall semester in August.