CULLOWHEE – A Rutherford County educational foundation executive, the first woman elected principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a Highlands homebuilder are the three newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Charles Philip Byers to fill a recent board vacancy, and former Principal Chief Joyce Conseen Dugan and John R. Lupoli to four-year terms on the WCU board.
Chief Dugan retired from the Cherokee Central School System in 2011 after a lengthy career that included stints as a teacher’s assistant, teacher, director of federal programs and superintendent. In 1995, she became the first woman elected principal chief, an office she held for four years. After leaving public office, Chief Dugan began working at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, becoming the casino’s director of public, government and community relations.
Byers, southeast regional program director for the Challenge Foundation and former sheriff of Rutherford County, is filling a vacancy on the board created by the departure of Brenda Wellmon of Mecklenburg County, who stepped down as a trustee for personal reasons this summer.
Formerly the executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Community Education Foundation and a facilitator for the Leadership Rutherford Program at Isothermal Community College, Byers earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Appalachian State University and his master’s degree in public affairs at WCU. He has served on the board of AdvantageWest economic development group and the Rutherford County Economic Development Commission.
Chief Dugan earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from WCU. She received the university Alumni Association’s Professional Achievement Award in 1996 and was placed on the Honor Roll of Peak Performers in the WCU College of Education and Allied Profession.
Lupoli is owner and president of Lupoli Real Estate and Construction. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the N.C. Small Town Main Street design committee, and former chair of the N.C. Small Town Main Street economic restructuring committee.
Lupoli is an active supporter of Highlands Playhouse and The Bascom, a nonprofit center for the visual arts. He was the 2012 recipient of the N.C. Small Town Main Street Award for Design for Highlands’ town square renovation project and a 2011 recipient of a grant from the N.C. Main Street Solutions Fund awarded by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
In addition to Wellmon, McCrory’s appointments to the WCU board fill vacancies left by outgoing members Painttown Rep. Tommy Saunooke and William Forsyth, retired executive director of the Cherokee County Economic Development Commission.
Byers, Chief Dugan and Lupoli will join two other new members – Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp. – elected to the WCU board earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors selects a total of eight trustees for each campus of the UNC system, and the governor appoints a total of four. No trustee may serve more than two full four-year terms consecutively.
In addition, the president of the WCU Student Government Association is an ex-officio member of the WCU Board of Trustees.
The board will hold its first quarterly meeting of the new academic year at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the board room of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The board also will hold committee meetings and discussions beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at various locations on the fifth floor of the Robinson Building.