Finding the Fun in Giving
The University helped uncover his passions. Now they’re a perfect fit for helping others.
Growing up, Michael Mele ’89 didn’t expect to become an Executive Vice Chairman at a global real estate services firm — much less a board member of WCU Foundation.
“I was a dyslexic kid before that was diagnosed, and my grades were not great,” Michaelsays. “But the University took a chance on me.”
Majoring in finance, he discovered an interest and knack for numbers. Inspired, he and his roommate began a window cleaning business, tracking their costs and profits.
Decades later, Michael is leveraging that same entrepreneurial drive with the self-storage advisory group at Cushman & Wakefield.
“If the University hadn’t taken a chance on me, none of this would’ve happened,” Michaelsays. “You reach a point in your life where you see how you got there — and how you can repay it to the next group.”
Like his foray into finance, Michael’s journey as a WCU Foundation board member was both unexpected and organic.
“I found it shocking that the President would want to come and meet me,” he admits. “But we stayed in contact. Then they asked me if I’d want to join, since my real estate background would be a good fit.”
“Now we were talking about something that interested me,” Michael continues. “It progressed, and now I’m chairman of the housing committee. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, and we do a great job raising money that goes strictly to students.”
For Michael, serving is an exercise in gratitude — and giving students the same chances he received. He envisions the University becoming a leader in STEM studies, helping future engineers and doctors discover their own passions.
“When you get into giving, it’s exciting,” Michael says. “The more successful a school gets, the more it feels like a place people want to return to — and the more fun it’s going to be for everyone.”
Michael Mele ’89: Meaningful Engagement
- WCU Foundation Board Member, 2019 to present
- Chair, Student Housing Committee, 2022 to present
- Established the Mele Family Endowed Scholarship to benefit undergraduate students in WCU’s School of Business
- Supported the construction of the Business & Public Management Center
- Member, Theta Chi Fraternity
Michael Mele '89
Creator, Mele Family Endowed Scholarship
Donor, Business & Public Management Center
WCU Foundation Board Member
"You reach a point in your life where you see how you got there — and how you can repay it to the next group."