David O. Belcher, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock since 2003, has been elected chancellor of Western Carolina University by the Board of Governors of the multi-campus University of North Carolina. UNC President Tom Ross placed Belcher’s name in nomination today (April 8) during a regular meeting of the board. Belcher, 53, will assume his new duties July 1, succeeding John W. Bardo, who is stepping down after 16 years in the post.
In recommending Belcher to the Board of Governors, Ross said: “David Belcher brings to the task more than two decades of academic and leadership experience at highly respected public universities. 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. He has also earned a reputation for great integrity, sound decision-making, and a strong commitment to community engagement and outreach. I am convinced that Dr. Belcher has the right mix of experience, skills, and passion needed to take Western Carolina to the next level, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to join our leadership team.”
A member of the University of Arkansas System, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a doctoral research university enrolling more than 13,000 students at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Its six colleges and UALR’s William H. Bowen School of Law include more than 100 programs of study. Like Western Carolina, UALR has experienced significant enrollment growth while increasing academic standards and has focused on meeting regional and state needs in education, health-related fields, and strategic areas of research and development. As provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Belcher is UALR’s chief academic officer. In that role, he has been responsible for overseeing all academic programs, as well as providing leadership for the Offices of Research and Graduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialization, and Extended Programs; UALR’s Ottenheimer Library; student recruitment; the UALR Nanotechnology Center; the Sequoyah National Research Center; the Arkansas Studies Institute; and the Donaghey Scholars Program.
A native of Barnwell, S.C., Belcher graduated from Furman University in 1979 with a degree in piano performance. After receiving a master’s degree (1981) in the field at the University of Michigan, he studied in Vienna, Austria, on a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellowship before earning his doctorate (1989) at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. While a student at Eastman, he received the Jerald C. Graue Memorial Scholarship for excellence in musicological research.
Belcher began his academic career in 1988 as an assistant professor of music at Missouri State University. During his 15-year tenure at MSU, he rose steadily through the academic and administrative ranks. After serving as coordinator of keyboard studies in MSU’s Music Department (1989-92) and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Letters (1993), he was named dean of the College of Arts and Letters in 1994. He left Missouri in 2003 to join UALR as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
At UALR, Belcher has been credited with leading strategic planning and emphasizing the campus’ institutional mission to be responsive to regional and state priorities. Under his leadership, the campus has launched seven new doctoral degree programs, created an Office of Innovation and Commercialization to capitalize on faculty research and promote economic development, implemented initiatives to improve student retention and graduation rates, earned designation as a Carnegie Community Engaged institution, and begun a thorough review of the undergraduate curriculum. Belcher also is a member of the leadership team for UALR’s first comprehensive development campaign, which reached its $75-million fund-raising goal 1½ years ahead of schedule in summer 2010 and has now been extended to $100 million.
Throughout his career, Belcher has appeared widely as a recitalist and chamber musician and been active in civic and community organizations. He currently serves on the boards of directors of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. A past chair of the Little Rock Arts and Culture Commission, he has previously led the boards of the Springfield (Missouri) Regional Opera and the Springfield Regional Arts Council and has held leadership positions with the National Conference of Governors’ Schools, Missouri Citizens for the Arts, the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, and the Urban Districts Alliance. Voted 2004 Administrator of the Year by UALR students, he also received the 1999 Ozzie Award from the Springfield Regional Arts Council in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the arts.
Belcher is married to Susan Brummell Belcher, who teaches voice at UALR and co-chairs the UALR Music Department Recruitment Committee.