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WCU's chancellor steps down for medical leave with an 'incredible legacy'

FILE - In a news release, David Belcher said his latest medical examination revealed a recurrence of cancer. He underwent a surgery in 2016 to remove a malignant brain tumor. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

A standing ovation and not a dry eye in the house as Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher spoke at his last two commencement ceremonies before he takes medical leave.

Belcher has been battling brain cancer since April 2016. He has led Western Carolina since July 2011.

Faculty and graduating students said it was a poignant occasion.

"In one sense, it's a great day, because it's the crown of an incredible legacy," said Brian Railsback, chair of the college's faculty senate. "It's always hard to say goodbye to fabulous legacy and leadership."

There were two ceremonies at WCU Saturday, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar will step into the role of chancellor at the start of the new year.

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