Individual donors and partner organizations are propelling WCU students to greater success. Discover the latest happenings from across our Foundation’s initiatives.


In 40 Years of Fundraising, WCU's Presidential Scholarship Community Gala Raises More Than $2.6 Million for Students

April 27, 2023
This year’s benefit celebrated a triple Ruby Anniversary.
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Each year, West Chester University’s Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala attracts numerous friends from throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an annual benefit organized to fund Presidential Scholarships for West Chester University students who have earned academic distinction. This year’s benefit celebrated a triple Ruby Anniversary: Forty years ago, in 1983, the Presidential Scholarship program was first established; West Chester State College became West Chester University of Pennsylvania; and current President Christopher Fiorentino began teaching at the University.

More than 250 guests attended the premier event that was made possible thanks to Presenting Sponsor Aramark and numerous corporate sponsors. This year, the Gala raised more than $120,000 for the Presidential Scholarship, which is funded entirely by private donations. Since its inception, the Gala has raised more than $2.6 million dollars for WCU students through a renewable, four-year Presidential Scholarship.

Special guests included Jørgen Frydnes and Henrik Syse, members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and members of the West Chester University Council of Trustees: Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson ’70; Tara D. Chupka ’05; Jonathan Ireland ’95, M’03; Susan Yoder Schick ’88; and Betty Silfa.

President Fiorentino and Dr. Susan Fiorentino shared co-hosting roles with Gala committee co-chairs Elizabeth and Stephen Leonard. A 1972 and 1980 alumnus, Steve taught instrumental music and directed the marching band in Hatboro-Horsham School District before leaving teaching to start his own business, local Jobsite Products, Inc. Liz spent 30 years working for various doctors in the Abington Memorial Hospital system.

During the event, Kylie Funkhouser (pictured), a junior cell and molecular biology major, pre-medical student, and Presidential Scholar, spoke about the impact of donor contributions: “This scholarship made attending WCU very possible for me. I felt as if my hard work was not only recognized by the University but encouraged, and that is one of the most significant reasons I am here today.”

Funkhouser continued, “Now, after almost three years of attending WCU, I can gratefully say that the contributions of the University’s donors, leaders, and educators have paved the way for excellence in not only my own career path, but in the student population as a whole.”

“In the fall of 1983, we had 9,586 students enrolled and ‘Every Breath You Take’ by the Police was on the radio seemingly nonstop,” President Fiorentino shared. “The inside of Anderson Hall was not as beautiful as it is now, but I can remember walking up Church Street for my interview inside – for a one-year sabbatical replacement position. Needless to say, I got the job. And it changed my life.

“That’s the thing about West Chester University: We’re in the business of changing lives. Serving this institution is one of the greatest honors of my life. Equally rewarding is seeing how an education at West Chester University has changed the lives of our students.”

Gala Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor: Aramark. Diamond Sponsors: Jobsite Products, Inc. and MacElree Harvey. Titanium Sponsor: H.B. Frazer Company. Gold Sponsors: Hobbs & Company, Inc.; Meridian Bank; Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP; Radius Systems; S&T Bank; Sodexo; University Student Housing, LLC; Visual Sound; and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. Silver Sponsors: Arthur Hall Insurance, Citadel Credit Union, The Elite Group, First Bank, Johnson Controls, NJM Insurance Group, The Protection Bureau, Patricia & James P. Shinehouse ’80, and TD Bank. Signature Drink Sponsor: SEI Investments Company. Bronze Sponsors: Balfour; Baker Tilly; Dilworth Paxson LLP; The Kienle Family: Denise, Jessica, Stephanie, and Joe (Golden Rams 4 Life); Martin’s Financial Consulting Group – Ameriprise; Philadelphia Phillies; WCU Alumni Association; and WCU Athletics.

Diversity Walk to be Dedicated to Former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman on April 22

April 7, 2023
Intentional Citizen Discussions to Follow about Diversity, Inclusion & Equity
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West Chester University (WCU) will pay tribute to the impactful community work and inclusive teaching of former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman by dedicating a popular campus corridor in his honor — Diversity Walk. A focal point for WCU students as they travel to classes on foot, Diversity Walk will be formally dedicated to the well-known Chester County leader on Saturday, April 22, at 9 a.m. by WCU President Chris Fiorentino and members of the University community. Among the many in attendance for the special honor will be former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman and numerous citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The outdoor Diversity Walk Dedication ceremony will take place on the plaza located between the east entrance of The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC) and the side entrance of Lawrence Hall. Parking will be available at the Student Recreation Center Parking Garage, 275 North Campus Drive in West Chester.

At a time when race and ethnic relations are being tested across the globe, the First Annual Community Gathering for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity will immediately follow the dedication from 9:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. in the SECC, located on campus at 155 University Avenue. The First Annual Community Gathering will draw citizens from throughout the region to engage in meaningful conversations about race and ethnic relations today; the need for healing, restoration and respect; ways to defy hatred and respond to negative social media; and other critical topics. Based on geographical areas of Chester County, intentional citizen discussion groups will explore new approaches to develop increased respect and understanding for all in our greater community. The groups will report-out on actionable outcomes following their conversations.

“Former Senator Dinniman’s relentless work to unite all people in our community is to be applauded,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “By establishing an ongoing forum to discuss new approaches to societal challenges, he has opened another door to engage our region in a series of dialogues designed to generate respect, increased understanding and a much-needed resolution.”

A highlight of the day will be a dynamic discussion led by a team that is on a mission to show that we are all part of one humanity. Professor Emerita Anita Foeman and Professor Bessie Lawton, both from WCU’s Department of Communication Studies, are transforming communities by uniting people through what may be best described as genetic epiphanies. As the lead researcher of the DNA Discussion Project, Dr. Foeman and Dr. Lawton, as co-investigator of the DNA Discussion Project, have encouraged thousands of people to engage in genetic testing followed by reveal-results and post-dialogues that challenge deeply entrenched stereotypes. The DNA Discussion Project is prompting very honest conversations about race and building connections among people who never thought that they were “different.”

Also conveying the importance about shared commonalities will be an acclaimed member of the University’s Department of History, Professor Emeritus Charles Hardy, III. In his presentation, Dr. Hardy, an expert in digital storytelling, will detail how historical research can help make sense of one another’s life experiences. By drawing on examples from the Great Migration to Philadelphia and others, participants will be shown the lessons that can be learned from our grandparents.

Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste is the honorary chair of the First Annual Community Gathering for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Dr. DeBaptiste, who provided an endowment to focus on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass through the Frederick Douglass Institute at WCU, inspired former Senator Dinniman to launch the gathering and its supporting endowment.

“As we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it is time to assess and discuss where we are as a society,” said former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman.  “The dynamics of intercultural communication lead us to a full appreciation of our common humanity. The purpose of this Gathering can be best summed by the words spoken by the chief historian of the Museum of the American Revolution, Philip Mead, who said, ‘Each generation must look at itself and ask are we making progress? The question is what can we do differently this time?’”

More About The Together Fund

The First Annual Community Gathering is brought to Chester County by the Dinniman Together Fund: Diversity Inclusion & Equity Endowment at West Chester University (WCU). The focus of the fund is to promote diversity and equity through a renewed emphasis on our common humanity. More than a century following the final public speech of Frederick Douglass on the campus of West Chester State Normal School on February 1, 1895, the Dinniman Together Fund continues the conversation by providing resources to support an annual gathering where the research and teaching knowledge of WCU faculty (past and present) may be shared with the greater Chester County community.

The Together Fund is, in part, designed to build on Dr. DeBaptiste’s generosity by taking the legacy of Douglass from the campus into the greater community. Former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman raised more than $100,000 to create the Dinniman Together Fund: Diversity Inclusion & Equity Endowment at West Chester University (WCU.

Additional information about the First Annual Community Gathering for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity as well as The Together Fund established by Senator Dinniman and his friends can be found here.

Local Leader Andrew Dinniman Raises $112,000 to Champion Diversity Initiatives

February 1, 2023
Local Leader Andrew Dinniman Raises $112,000 to Champion Diversity Initiatives on the Anniversary of Frederick Douglass' Final Public Address at West Chester
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Former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman has surpassed his goal of $100,000 to create the Dinniman Together Fund: Diversity Inclusion & Equity Endowment at West Chester University (WCU). The focus of the fund is to promote diversity and equity through a renewed emphasis on our common humanity. This announcement coincides with the anniversary of the final public speech of Frederick Douglass, which was held on the campus of West Chester State Normal School on February 1, 1895. More than a century later, the Dinniman Together Fund will continue the conversation by providing resources to support an annual gathering where the research and teaching knowledge of WCU faculty (past and present) may be shared with the greater Chester County community.

In recognition of the towering role that Douglass played as an advocate of social justice, West Chester University has done much to recognize the legacy of Douglass and his message. Dr. C. James Trotman, WCU professor emeritus of English, served as the first director of the Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI) at WCU, established in 1992, and Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste endowed the Frederick Douglass annual lecture series for others to continue to learn of the impact of Douglass.

Last fall, former State Senator Dinniman delivered the third annual Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste Frederick Douglass Institute Lecture entitled “The Life and Legacy and Legacy of Frederick Douglass in the America of 2022.” During his address, he stated, “Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. represent the prophetic tradition in American history, which calls for the nation to live up to its highest aspirations.”

At West Chester University, former State Senator Dinniman received the President’s Medallion for Service in 2015 and was named emeritus director of the Center for International Programs and Educational Development in 2021. During his time there, he taught undergraduate courses including African American History, Racial and Ethnic Understanding, and Global Studies, as well as graduate courses in public policy. He has served as director of both the Ethnic Studies Institute and the Center for International Programs. In October 2022, the West Chester Area Chamber of Commerce presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Chester County History Center will be using former State Senator Dinniman’s lecture as part of its Black History Month programs.

West Chester University's 'INCOMPARABLE' Golden Rams Marching Band Selected to perform in the 2024 Rose Parade®

December 30, 2022
“RamBand Road to the Roses ‘24” Initiative Launches to Fund Travel Expenses for the Band’s 350 Members
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The West Chester University “INCOMPARABLE” Golden Rams Marching Band will again represent West Chester University and the greater Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on the international stage when they become the first marching band within the PASSHE system to march in the iconic 135th Rose Parade® presented by Honda on Monday, January 1, 2024. An annual tradition for more than 130 years, the Rose Parade has a television viewership of over 25 million people and a live attendance of about 700,000.

Each year, the Tournament of Roses Association® selects a small number of bands from a large pool of international applicants to perform in the Rose Parade that precedes college football’s Rose Bowl Game® in Pasadena, California. The competitive Rose Parade selection process uses a variety of criteria for invited participants that includes musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value. It is less common for a University band to be selected, save for the two marching bands representing the two Rose Bowl Game football teams.

“As a renowned musical legacy, the INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band continues to be a distinctive element at West Chester University and one that brings a great deal of pride to the entire community,” says West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “Hailing from all disciplines and majors, 350 students juggle the academic rigor of the University with a demanding practice schedule. These outstanding students deserve this coveted opportunity, and we are thrilled that they will bring worldwide recognition to West Chester University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

To fund travel expenses for the band’s 350 members, West Chester University launched the “RamBand Road to the Roses ‘24” initiative, which aims to raise $1 Million. Anchored by a $100,000 matching gift challenge from Dr. James Wells ’54 and Mr. Richard G. Wells ’58, who are both alumni and the namesakes for West Chester’s School of Music, the initiative invites donors to make a gift to be matched by March 10, 2023, which is West Chester University’s Charter Day of Giving. Gifts can be made at

Dean of West Chester University’s Wells School of Music Christopher Hanning adds, “The INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band is the largest ensemble within West Chester University’s Wells School of Music. We kindly request the support of the entire University community, as well as the surrounding community and throughout Pennsylvania, so that the band’s 350-member ensemble can be seen and heard in its full majesty at the 2024 Rose Parade.”

Director of Athletic Bands Adam Gumble says, “Marching in the Rose Parade has been a longtime goal of the INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band. The highly competitive selection process means that only the world’s best marching bands are invited to perform. This recognition from the Tournament of Roses Association is yet another reminder that West Chester University’s marching band is truly INCOMPARABLE. We want to thank our students, alumni, faculty, staff and fans for their unyielding support of our program.”

The West Chester University INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band is a group of 300+ students that proudly represents West Chester University and the greater West Chester community. Comprised of students from more than 60 different majors, the marching band involves students from every segment of the campus population and is the largest student organization on campus. In addition to performing at local and regional parades and exhibitions, the “RamBand” has performed at prestigious events including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Nashville Christmas Parade, National Football League games, Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade, and Bands of America Regional and Grand National Championships! The West Chester University Golden Rams Marching Band has earned a national reputation as a leader in the marching arts and was named the recipient of the 2019 Sudler Trophy. The Sudler Trophy is presented biannually to a university marching band that demonstrates the highest standards of music performance, precision marching, and innovation in show design and is considered the “Heisman Trophy” for college marching bands. West Chester University is one of only 32 schools in the United States and the first NCAA Division II School to receive the award!

WCU Honors Military Scholars

November 17, 2022
The University held this year’s Military Scholarship Ceremony and Breakfast on November 12 to celebrate ROTC cadet and veteran scholars.
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The University held this year’s Military Scholarship Ceremony and Breakfast on November 12 at the WCU Alumni & Foundation Center Ballroom to celebrate ROTC cadet and veteran scholars. Among those present were the 28 students who were recognized with at least one of 21 scholarships awarded this year.

“West Chester University takes great pride in providing a quality education and supportive environment for our student veterans, military service members, reservists, and their families,” said WCU President Christopher Fiorentino.

He noted WCU’s longstanding commitment to military students and emphasized the growth of the Greg and Sandra Weisenstein Veterans Center and expansion of services in recent years under Director Lillian Morrison. The center works to create an intentional culture of understanding, acceptance, and success for veterans, active military, and those whose support them, in part by facilitating communication among campus offices with a coordinated system of service.

“Along with increased scholarship support and program funding, in 2019, due to support from Mrs. Eileen Reider Glenn, Class of ’69, M’99, we’ve established a dedicated counselor position specifically to support our student veterans,” added Fiorentino.

West Chester University is among only 282 universities nationwide that were selected for Gold award status on the Military Friendly Schools list for 2022-2023. The Gold designation recognizes schools for their leading practices, outcomes, and effective programs on behalf of veterans, military service members, reservists, and their families. This is the second year WCU has achieved Gold status. In addition, WCU is a Yellow Ribbon school committed to helping students pay for tuition and fees that are not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

For more information about WCU’s student veterans and the Veterans Center, visit

President's Circle Honorees Demonstrate Philanthropic Leadership at WCU

November 2, 2022
On October 27, West Chester University recognized those who are members of the President’s Circle: those committed to advancing student success at WCU through their philanthropic leadership.
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The President’s Circle comprises dedicated alumni, parents and family members, friends, faculty, staff, and community partners whose commitment to the University drives student success now and provides a strong foundation for the University’s future. President’s Circle members belong to three unique philanthropic leadership societies: the Carillon Society, the Heritage Society, and Community Partners.

“Each year, the President’s Circle Ceremony gives us the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary individuals and community partners whose generosity is making direct, impactful differences in the lives of our students,” said WCU President Christopher Fiorentino. “Those who donate annually as members of our Carillon Society, have achieved lifetime giving milestones as members of our Heritage Society, or are recognized as President’s Award Honorees. Our students, and more than 124,000 of their graduated peers, are going to change the world, and these people help them get there.”

Deb Cornelius ’91, interim executive director of the WCU Foundation, added, “Our students make difficult choices every day on this campus: they juggle jobs, full course loads, and personal responsibilities – our donors know this. Their passion for the well-being of our students is reflected in their support of scholarships, educational opportunities, enhanced program experiences, and leading-edge technologies – they step up, and as many of us are fellow Golden Rams, we pay it forward, and help set our students up for success.”

The event honored the 2022 President’s Award Honorees: Carol L. Kashow ’77; Celia C. Esplugas, emerita professor of languages and cultures; John W. Ward, retired faculty; Scott W. Reid ’96; and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation.

Lorina Marshall-Blake is President of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation (the Foundation), a charitable, private foundation founded in 2011, and also Vice President of Community Affairs at Independence Blue Cross (Independence). In her role with the Foundation, she leads strategic, programmatic, and operational efforts to fulfill the Foundation’s mission to lead sustainable solutions that improve the health and wellness of the community. Under her leadership, the Foundation has established itself as a collaborator, innovator, and thought leader in addressing emerging health needs in southeastern Pennsylvania. As Vice President of Community Affairs, Marshall-Blake develops and manages relationships with community partners to advance Independence’s social mission efforts.

Marshall-Blake noted, “At our Foundation, we believe nurses are the glue for our healthcare system. With our support of nursing education, and our collaboration with nursing schools such as West Chester University, we’ve aimed to address not only a nursing shortage, but also the inequities that plague healthcare.”

Pictured with President Chris Fiorentino (L) and Sue Fiorentino (far R) are those who were honored with this year’s President’s Award (L-R): Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, a charitable, private foundation founded in 2011, and vice president of community affairs at Independence Blue Cross; Carol L. Kashow ’77; John W. Ward, retired faculty, and Celia C. Esplugas, emerita professor of languages and cultures; and Scott W. Reid ’96.

Ribbons, Ribbons, and Celebration

September 16, 2022
We have watched The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons grow…and this week we celebrated!
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Our donors are the driving force behind these hallways and classrooms. Gifts to this building fueled 150Forward: The Campaign for WCU – they made the SECC and The Commons a reality for West Chester University.

On Thursday, September 15th, alumni donors and friends who have named spaces in the building gathered to experience firsthand the new technology, distinctive features, and academic enhancements now available to our students through student and faculty demonstrations in the Nutrition & Sensory Evaluation Lab, the Environmental Health Lab, and the Duey Centers for Science.

This is the heart of our campus now, a place where our students can access and harness the latest technology to drive their educational achievements; where they can come to enjoy a meal, collaborate with their peers, or find a quiet space to study; and where our alumni can gather to reminisce – and make new memories.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held for the Largest Project & Most Complex Building in West Chester University's History

September 16, 2022
The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons Stands at 175,000 Square Feet
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On Thursday, September 15, amid lots of purple & gold fanfare, the ribbon was officially cut to West Chester University’s 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC), the largest project and most complex building in the University’s history. Among those doing the official ribbon-cutting honors outside of the SECC’s main lobby doors were West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino; Executive Vice President & Provost Laurie Bernotsky; Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey; and WCU Alumni Association President Matthew Holliday ’09.

The SECC is a game-changer for West Chester University, which is the largest university within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, as it provides a living-learning environment for the next generation of scientists, physicists, engineers, nurses, nutritionists, and other critical-demand positions. In fact, the SECC has changed the entire learning landscape at WCU. Instead of asking how students can become ready for West Chester University, the University is asking how it can become ready for students; the SECC is the University’s response.

More About the SECC
The new three-story facility is home to the University’s rapidly growing health science curricula, physics, new biomedical engineering program, as well as expansive academic and support spaces. The state-of-the-art facility boasts:

  • the Duey Immersive Learning Center, where high-tech mannequins mimic patients in a simulated hospital setting;
  • an advanced Food Sensory Lab, where students are taught how the taste, smell and flavor of food/drink affect people’s food choices;
  • roof-top garden beds, where Nutrition Department students grow vegetables that will be taken to the WCU Resource Pantry and other places within the community; and
  • a Physics Forum on the third floor, where “Physics Teas” draw physics students and faculty to talk about classes, graduate school, and other topics.

There are also numerous collaborative spaces and alcoves peppered all over the facility. Active learning is encouraged through whiteboards that enable students to brainstorm and share concepts on the spot. Classrooms include flat-screen TV monitors and large-area writable wall surfaces to foster student-work groups; 16 of the classrooms feature video-web conferencing. In addition, dramatic “learning stairs” provide a stimulating hang-out space for students and a captivating floor-to-ceiling video wall highlights the University’s vibrant campus.

“Above all else, this building centers on what students need to learn to be hands-on and successful in critical-demand fields,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino.

Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky concurred. “In every meeting that the University had with architects, we stressed that we had enough buildings with podiums, desks and chairs,” she said. “We needed more collaborative spaces where the singular focus would be on engaging students actively in all aspects of learning throughout the facility.”

Recognizing that meaningful connections happen in a variety of settings, the facility also features The Commons — a welcoming and stimulating environment for students to gather, eat and work. The 800-seat residential dining facility encompasses more than 16,000 square feet of the building’s entire second floor. An intentional and progressive design encourages students to use the facility as a third space and an exciting location to meet, get a healthy meal between classes, and engage in other formative, non-academic activities.

In addition to serving students’ academic and co-curricular needs, the building also includes an adjacent 162,000-square-foot parking garage, which includes 462 parking spaces. While total costs for the SECC have not been finalized, it is estimated that the project will total more than $130 million. The SECC is the largest building construction project ever undertaken within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

SECC Project Benefactors
The three-story facility has been built with the support of two critical leadership gifts. Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey, also an adjunct professor at the University teaching in the Marketing Department and the Pharmaceutical Product Development Program, in association with the Duey family, made a generous gift of $1 million toward the important project.

Student Services, Incorporated (SSI), also made a generous gift of $1 million to the project, thanks to Student Services, Incorporated Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza ‘66. Student Services, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University. SSI is committed to WCU students and stands ready to ensure that they have whatever they need to meet their academic goals. The objective of the corporation is to initiate, regulate, and operate the financial matters of the University’s co-curricular student activities.

The West Chester University Alumni Association also contributed significantly to the building project with a generous donation of $150,000.

“At a time when West Chester University enrolls numerous STEM majors, Marc and Maureen Duey; Student Services, Incorporated; and the West Chester University Alumni Association have invested in the next generation of WCU graduates who will enhance our region and our world as innovative engineers, nurses, nutritionists, physicists, public health professionals, and scientists,” said West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino. “All of us are grateful to these generous benefactors who have created new possibilities and great opportunities for an increasing number of WCU students who are dedicated to preparing themselves for high-performance careers that will make a considerable difference to many.”

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